e665c24e-6eb5-11e6-a845-38d55c9fbce5-780x1170WASHINGTON — Home prices in the Northwest continued to climb at a double-digit pace in June compared to a year ago, easily twice the rate for the nation’s 20 largest metro areas.

Seattle home prices rose 11 percent, second only to Portland, where prices rose 12.6 percent, according to the Standard & Poor’s CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, released Tuesday.

 Portland, Seattle and Denver have topped the list of price gains for the past five months. From May to June, Seattle prices rose 1.4 percent, again trailing only Portland at 1.6 percent.

Home values have slowed to more sustainable rates elsewhere. In Northeastern cities such as New York and Washington, D.C., they are rising at roughly the rate of inflation, and in Boston, less than 5 percent.

Still, nationwide prices are increasing more quickly than incomes as buyers compete for the dwindling supply of available homes. That reflects an ongoing imbalance in the housing market that could stifle sales in the coming months.

“June represents the fifth straight month of flat or decreasing year-over-year price gains, but homebuyers are still being challenged as prices outpace income growth,” Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at real estate data provider Trulia, said.

Cities in the Midwest were mixed. Over 12 months, home prices in Cleveland and Chicago rose 2.5 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively, while in Minneapolis they climbed 5.1 percent, the same as the nationwide pace.

Southern cities saw stronger price gains. They rose 8.9 percent in Dallas, 7.9 percent in Tampa, and 5.8 percent in Atlanta.

“Nationally, home prices have risen at a consistent 4.8 percent annual pace over the last two years without showing any signs of slowing,” said David Blitzer, managing director at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The 20-city price index plunged after the housing bubble started to burst in 2006, plummeting by more than a third before prices began to rise again in March 2012. In June, they were still 8.1 percent below their peak level.

The Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. The index measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The June figures are the latest available.

 

The full article can be found HERE at the Seattle Time website

A story of the Buckman neighborhood

joecotterThe East Side was involved in the settlement of Portland from its beginning. James B. Stephens arrived in the mid-1840s and settled on the east bank. In 1850 he received title to a 640 acre donation land claim that included much of what was to become the City of East Portland.

The settlement grew and, with the arrival of the railroad, it became a city in 1870. A major facility for the treatment of the mentally ill and destitute was built in 1868 by the Dr. J. C. Hawthorne. The nearby east-west street was named Asylum Avenue and later was renamed Hawthorne Boulevard in honor of this civic leader.

The Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905 put Portland on the national map and led to a large increase in population that expanded in the east side.

Zoning came to Portland in the 1920s and began with only four zones for: homes, apartments, businesses, and industries.

The residential area in Buckman began at SE 7th Ave. and over time, became zoned for apartments. World War II brought an influx of shipyard workers that caused a shortage of housing and many large older homes were subdivided into rooming houses leading to their misuse and deterioration.

The area from SE 7th  to 12th Avenues contained many nineteenth century Victorian homes that became victims of the expansion of the industrial district.

The automobile was replacing the trolleys and traffic and congestion led to the widening of east-west arterial streets. In the post war period, Buckman was in decline and the neighborhood became one of the depressed areas of inner Portland. There was a lack of investment which encouraged speculative interests to acquire properties east of SE 12th Ave. with the expectation of further commercial expansion.

In the mid 1960s, the Johnson Administration initiated the Great Society Program and the War on Poverty. One of the requirements of these federal programs was the involvement of low income residents in decisions about growth and change in their neighborhoods.

The Portland Development Commission created SE Uplift to provide help with the rehabilitation and assistance. This led to the revival of the inner SE neighborhoods as greater interest developed in the area.

Planning was a vital part of the work, and it took the Buckman area several years to finally get funding for its neighborhood plan and the Buckman Community Association was created in 1971.

At the same time, local planner John Perry was hired to facilitate the Buckman neighborhood plan. Even though it was not finished, it identified the basic needs of the neighborhood.

The main goal was to stabilize the neighborhood through the re-zoning of much of the area back to single family residential.buckman-house

A committee was formed to study the rezoning of a small four block demonstration area and upon its completion, the city decided to proceed with the rezoning of larger areas.

The first new row house project in Portland was completed in the 1970s on a half block site that was originally to be just another two story apartment complex. This happened through the advocacy of the neighborhood association. It was designed by neighborhood architects and the units were purchased by people in the neighborhood.

The early 1980s began with the closure of the Washington-Monroe High School. The progressive neighborhood association proposed that the school should become a much-needed community center and affordable housing.

Soon after the second Buckman Community Congress, the REACH Community Development Corporation was created. REACH is an acronym for Recreation, Education, Access, Commerce and Housing. It was not successful in obtaining the rights of the vacated high school, but it went on with various housing and development projects and today REACH is a leading multi-million dollar regional success.

Neighborhood Plans became a priority in the Bud Clark administration and the Buckman Plan was one of the first to be completed. It was a 15 month process that began in 1989.

After many public meetings and at least four preliminary drafts, the final document was approved by city council in 1991. It provides a comprehensive description of the Buckman neighborhood and contains many objectives and strategies that would make Buckman a desirable Portland neighborhood again.

The Central Eastside Industrial District has always been an important part of Buckman. In 2006, it became an urban renewal district. This provided the implementing tool and resources to act on several major objectives of the Buckman Neighborhood Plan.

Among them are the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade, the first trolley on the east side of the river in sixty years and progress toward the realization of an East Side Community and Aquatics Center, along with many improvements to the industrial and warehouse areas.

Buckman neighborhood continues to be actively involved in Portland’s growth and change by providing a forum for neighbors to discuss their issues and meet those that represent their interests.

Homeless concerns, the Washington High community center, the comprehensive plan, the new mid-rise apartment buildings, parking issues, and many other challenges engage the association members.

The annual Buckman Picnic takes place Sunday August 14 from 4 to 8 pm at Col. Summers Park, SE 17th Ave. at Taylor St.. The picnic is a good opportunity to meet current association member and Buckman neighbors while and enjoy food and entertainment.

The original article can be found HERE at The Southern Examiner website

Are Solar Panels for you?

solar1Brett VandenHeuvel, the executive director of the nonprofit environmental group Columbia Riverkeeper, celebrated the Fourth of July by installing solar panels at his house in the Columbia Gorge and working to achieve, what he calls, energy independence. Here’s what he did to reduce his use of fossil fuel energy:

On Independence Day, my family turned on our new solar panels to power our home, taking steps to declare independence from fossil fuel energy. Along with being more efficient to use less energy, the solar panels will power nearly 100 percent of our home’s energy use.

Like most people, our family has a long ways to go to kick the fossil fuel habit. But I’m excited to choose solar over the coal-fired power plants and hydroelectric dams that currently power our home.

We are also replacing our old natural gas furnace with a high-efficiency electric heat pump, powered by the sun.

As someone who works to protect clean water and fights dirty fossil fuel projects, I can’t wait to shut off the gas and do my small part to reduce fracking, new pipelines and carbon pollution.

What took me so long?

I don’t know. Maybe I thought solar was too expensive and too complicated.

I’ve seen solar panels go up on dozens of homes and businesses in my small town, but never pulled the trigger. Too expensive? There are up-front costs, but after a few years, the 3-kilowatt system pays for itself.

We paid $12,228 up front, but the final system cost is just $2,560 after four years, factoring in the rebates and tax incentives. And I will save that much on my energy bill.

So after four years the system pays for itself, while increasing the value of my home. A 2015 U.S. Department of Energy survey found buyers are willing to pay more for homes with solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems.solar3

People have been telling me that solar pencils out for years—better late than never.

Is it complicated? No.

Nonprofit and government programs exist throughout our region to help people get started on solar. In the Columbia Gorge where I live, a nonprofit called Gorge Owned launched GO! Solar to make residential PV systems easier in Hood River, Wasco and Skamania counties by working with utilities, local government and nonprofit partners.

Gorge Owned and my contractor, Common Energy, did all the paperwork and worked with my utility to set up net-metering.

While residential solar is not feasible for everyone—you must own your home, have good solar access and be able to afford the up-front costs—it really pencils out for many people.

Other drawbacks are it requires research. But in my case, a nonprofit organization and the contractor did all of the research. They conducted the solar analysis (how much sun is available on our roof, considering the roof aspect and trees) and gave me a bid. It does not cost anything, or take much time, to get a bid.

I evaluated the bid and increased the size of the system slightly over what the contractor proposed. He suggested a system that would cover 90 percent of our power use, and I asked him to increase to 100 percent.

The contractor took it from there.

Just like any purchase, you could research it forever. But there are trained professionals who are there to help. This is especially true with solar because nonprofit organizations like Solar Oregon are promoting solar and have excellent resources.

Another hesitation may come from a homeowner who doesn’t like the look on the roof and doesn’t know the resale value if they sell. I can’t speak others, but I think it looks cool.

Our roof only had only one spot that worked but other homeowners will hear from the contractor where the panels could be positioned.

Last night, a neighbor down the street came over to introduce himself because he watched the solar installation and wanted to learn more. We don’t have a fancy car, but maybe our flashy solar panels will be the envy of the neighborhood.

My family’s simple rooftop solar is good for energy independence, good for our planet and good for our finances. That’s something to celebrate.

–Brett VandenHeuvel

Columbia Riverkeeper works to restore and protect the Columbia River.

The original article can be found HERE at Oregonlive.com