9 Signs You’re Ready to Stop Renting and Buy Your First Place

Do you dream of a future with a yard and a white picket fence? One where you’re not writing away 30 percent of your salary to your landlord every month? Being able to buy a home is a big part of what we’re sold as “The American Dream,” but it’s not for everyone.

Renting an apartment forever is absolutely an option, and a damn good one. But still, many people every year decide to give up the rental life for home ownership (32 percent of home sales were to first-time buyers in 2016). Wondering if you should be one of them? Here are nine signs you’re ready.

This isn’t a checklist, and these things certainly aren’t requirements for your first foray into real estate. But if you can say “yes” to more than a few items on the list, it’s a good indicator that buying might be a solid next step for you.

1. You’re out of debt.

2. You have an emergency fund saved up.

3. You have a down payment saved up.

The minimum for an FHA loan is 3.5 percent of the purchase price. More than 5 percent will get you into a fixed-rate conventional loan (where you pay private mortgage insurance monthly). And if you can manage 20 percent, you’re in the very best shape to avoid fees altogether.

4. You have good credit.

5. You own a basic set of tools and know how to make small repairs.

6. Your current apartment doesn’t fit your needs.

Here are some ways to know.

7. Buying is a better deal for you where you live.

The New York Times has a great tool on weighing your buying vs. renting options.

8. You love your city, and know you’ll stay there for at least 5 years.

Selling a home is sometimes just as costly as buying one.

9. You want this home for the life you have now.

Don’t feel like you have to buy a home for some hypothetical future time when you get married and have 2.5 kids.

View the full article here at Apartment Therapy

Why did my Oregon property tax bill go up? 4 questions to ask

Oregon homeowners might be wondering why they owe so much more in property taxes than last year. development still a place where people live

Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas county residents can look up their tax bills and compare them to the rest of the region on our map.

Oregon’s complex property tax system doesn’t always make it easy to figure out, but here are four questions to ask yourself (or your county’s assessor).

 

 

 

View the full article here at Oregon Live

Portland ranked among nation’s top moving destinations

Surprise, surprise: Portland is among the country’s top moving destinations.

That’s according to Updater, a moving app that ranked the top 15 moving destinations of 2018. Updater says its list is based on data from a subset of 2 million household goods moves from January through August.

So how did Portland stack up?

 

 

 

 

View the full article here at Oregon Live

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Americans Are Moving Closer to Nature, and to Fire Danger

The deadly wildfires that are devastating communities in parts of Northern and Southern California first ignited in an expanding part of the American landscape: not in forests, not in cities, but in the areas that experts call the wildland-urban interface. 

It is the transition zone between wildlands — such as forests, grasslands and scrublands — and human development.

Researchers say that wildfires pose the greatest risk to people along the wildland-urban interface. This is partly because the homes in those areas butt up against the vegetation that can fuel fires, putting their occupants in significant danger. And there are more fires in those areas because of the presence of humans, who often ignite them.

Despite the risks, an increasing number of Americans are living in the wildland-urban interface. There were 12.7 million more houses and 25 million more people living in these zones in 2010 than in 1990.

In a few places, like New England, the numbers have increased as forested land has retaken abandoned farmland: The wildlands have encroached on people. But in California, where roughly one million homes were built in the wildland-urban interface over that time period, it’s because people are moving into these areas. At the same time, because of climate change, the state’s dry periods have become hotter and drier, increasing fire risk.

In a few places, like New England, the numbers have increased as forested land has retaken abandoned farmland: The wildlands have encroached on people. But in California, where roughly one million homes were built in the wildland-urban interface over that time period, it’s because people are moving into these areas. At the same time, because of climate change, the state’s dry periods have become hotter and drier, increasing fire risk. 

Northwest of Los Angeles, the Woolsey Fire has ripped through densely populated areas in cities like Thousand Oaks and Malibu, and other areas that some researchers call the wildland-urban intermix. It is a type of wildland-urban interface where areas of housing and vegetation commingle.

Fire has not deterred development in these types of areas, nor redevelopment. Using aerial photos, researchers looked at how many buildings were rebuilt in California after wildfires.

In 29 fires between 1970 and 2009, 49 percent of burned buildings were rebuilt within six years, said Miranda H. Mockrin, a research scientist with the United States Forest Service.

For 11 of those fires, data was available for a 25-year span after the fire. Researchers found that 94 percent of damaged buildings had been rebuilt, although they couldn’t tell whether the original owners or someone else had done the rebuilding.

“In general for wildfire, as other hazards, there is a big push to sort of return to normal, to encourage rebuilding,” Dr. Mockrin said.

California already has what Dr. Mockrin calls some of the strictest fire regulations in the country.

Since 1991, a structure built in the wildland-urban interface “has to be made up of noncombustible materials, noncombustible roof, closed eaves,” said Jonathan Cox, a division chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The regulations are on top of any local requirements. But those rules don’t apply to buildings constructed before 1991. According to Zillow,the average home in California was built in the 1950s.

“What we don’t have is retrofit programs,” said Max Moritz, a cooperative extension specialist in wildfire at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “We retrofit for earthquake safety. And there’s public funding for mitigating flood exposure. But we don’t do that for fire.”

There have been efforts in recent years to create “fire-adapted communities” that are better situated to handle fires.

“We know these lands are dangerous,” Chief Cox said. “We know they’re susceptible to fire. How we build on these lands is an important consideration as we move forward.”

 

 

 

 

View the full article here at The New York Times