Housing Market Slows, as Rising Prices Outpace Wages

DENVER — By nearly any measure, this city is booming. The unemployment rate is below 3 percent. There is so much construction that a local newspaper started a “crane watch” feature. Seemingly every week brings headlines about companies bringing high-paying jobs to the area.

Yet, Denver’s once-soaring housing market has run into turbulence. Sales and construction activity have slowed in recent months. Houses that would once have drawn a frenzy of offers are sitting on the market for days or weeks. Selling prices are rising more slowly, and asking prices are being slashed to attract buyers.

Similar slowdowns have hit New York, Seattle and even San Francisco, cities that until recently ranked among the nation’s hottest housing markets. The specifics vary, but economists, real estate agents and home builders say the core issue is the same: Home buyers are reaching a breaking point after years of breakneck price increases that far exceeded income gains.

“The local economy is still fantastic, all the fundamentals are there, but obviously wages are not keeping pace,” said Steve Danyliw, a Denver realtor. “As the market continues to move up, buyers are being pushed out.”

Rachel Sandoval is one of them. An elementary schoolteacher in the Denver Public Schools, Ms. Sandoval earns about $50,000 a year, enough to afford a condominium or a modest house in most markets. But not in Denver, where the median sales price for all homes was $410,000 in August, and where even condos routinely top $300,000 — a price Ms. Sandoval calls “not even close to feasible.” She said she was scoping out jobs in Texas, where houses are cheaper and pay is higher, and considering leaving teaching in search of a higher salary.

For now, Ms. Sandoval, 41, is sharing a one-bathroom rental house with two roommates, a nurse and an adjunct professor. The three stick to a strict schedule to make sure they can all get to work on time.

“We are professionals, we have degrees,” Ms. Sandoval said. “This was not the plan.”

Nationwide, sales of previously owned homes fell 1.5 percent in Augustfrom a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. Residential building permits were down 5.5 percent over the past year, according to the Department of Commerce. Many economists say the housing market may have turned into a drag on the gross domestic product.

The recent slowdown, however, is unlikely to give would-be buyers like Ms. Sandoval much relief. Prices in Denver are still up 8 percent over the past year, according to the S&P Case-Shiller index. That’s cool compared to the double-digit gains of a couple years ago, but well ahead of the 6 percent increase in average hourly earnings over the same period. Rising interest rates have also made buying homes more expensive.

View the full article here at The New York Times


The Greenest Places

Which American cities are the most energy efficient?

How do you measure energy efficiency? When it comes to individual homes, it’s a good bet that smart buildings equipped with Energy Star-rated appliances will consume less energy. But figuring out the energy efficiency of an entire city is more complicated, and requires factoring in things like local law and public policy.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy tackles that onerous task every two years, ranking major American cities based on actions they are taking to conserve energy in five categories: transportation policies; energy and water utilities; buildings policies; local government operations; and communitywide initiatives.

The most recent City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, issued in 2017 — a hefty report of more than 200 pages — ranked Boston at the top, thanks in part to its very high score in the energy and water utilities category: The city’s utilities offer customers a number of programs to help reduce energy consumption and increase efficiency.

New York came in second, with a high score for local government operations — including policies that encourage improvements in new buildings and retrofits to old ones, and an upgraded fleet of energy-efficient municipal vehicles.

View the full article here at The New York Times


Where to Buy an Affordable Vacation Home, Based on Your Myers-Briggs Type

Once you’ve taken the Myers-Briggs test, you’ve got a four-letter passcode that reveals nuances of your personality and a deeper understanding of yourself. Just like you, cities around the United States have unique personalities, too—some secluded spots are natural fits for introverts while other museum-rich hubs will stimulate the busy minds of thinkers.

We already played matchmaker, finding the best affordable cities for each Myers-Briggs type and then gave decorating tips best suited for the 16 different personality types. Now, we’ve scouted out some of the most affordable cities to buy a vacation home, based on your Myers-Briggs type.

But, does it make sense to buy a vacation home? (We know you’re wondering, you practical ISTJs or ENTJs). The idea here is that these spots are coveted vacation destinations that could be rented out, generating some income when you’re not vacationing yourself. Plus, when you’re ready to go on vacation, you’re not subject to high hotel rates in busy seasons.

Based on your Myers-Briggs type, here’s 16 affordable vacation home markets that are bidding for your attention.

INTJ: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Ever question T-Pain’s lyric: “I’ll put you in a mansion, somewhere in Wisconsin”? (Very creative rhyme scheme, btw). We’re guessing the hundreds of mansions dotting the shoreline of Lake Geneva were the rapper’s muse. Consider it the Hamptons of the Midwest: Lake Genevaboasts a 26-mile shoreline path looping the lake that will delight the active imaginations of this personality type. Plus, the Architects—best known for their strategic minds—will be wowed by the efficiency and grace of the mail jumpers, who deliver mail via boat during summer months by hopping on and off docks as the vessel keeps moving. Did we mention the median home value is only $193,000? Why yes, we’ll take a mansion in Wisconsin.





INTP: Healdsburg, California

House prices in San Francisco are some of the steepest in the country. But head about an hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge and arrive in Healdsburg, which is in the heart of Sonoma’s wine country and has unpretentious roots as a farming community. While on vacation, imaginative and original INTP types will feel right at home at Shed. The sun-soaked cafe and fresh produce market doubles as a venue for events like book talks and cheese workshops—it even won a James Beard award for design. Plus, INTPs are abstract thinkers who recognize the world as a complex machine, so they might have what it takes to understand what it takes to make some great vino. How does a career change sound?





ENTJ: Blue Ridge, Georgia

Commanders love long-term planning and goal-setting, so a vacation property with an especially good ROI should delight them. In a reportdone by Rented.com, Blue Ridge, Georgia ranked high on a list of best places to buy a rental vacation property. The report favors destinations in the South, where there isn’t a housing shortage and the cost of living is more affordable. Because of these criteria, Colorado and Utah cities don’t fare too well on the list. But thanks to Blue Ridge, you don’t have to rule out the mountains. The northern Georgia city boasts mountains, as well as other awesome amenities such as waterfalls, craft breweries, and a scenic railway.






ENTP: Austin, Texas

Bored by routine, the ENTP-types will find something fun and new to do every time they slip away to this Texas city, which embraces the motto “Keep Austin Weird.” While in town, skip a boring city pool in favor of swimming laps in Barton Springs, a beloved, three-acre spring-fed outdoor pool that’s 68 to 70 degrees year-round. Watch bats flutter about under the Congress Avenue Bridge just after sunset or marvel at street art murals at the HOPE Outdoor Gallery. Plus, a calendar full of public lectures and events at the University of Texas—Austin will satiate the intellectual curiosity of ENTPs, who are unwilling to give vacation days to their busy minds.






View the full article here at Apartment Therapy

National home-price growth slows, following Portland’s lead

Rising home prices are beginning to slow nationally as more would-be buyers are finding houses out of reach. 

Home prices rose 6 percent in July compared with a year earlier, according to the S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller home price index, the smallest increase since September. Fifteen of 20 major metro areas included in the home-price survey saw similar slowdowns in July.

The rest of the country’s major metropolitan areas are following the pattern seen earlier in the Portland area, which went from the nation’s hottest housing market in 2016 to the middle of the pack. Portland still saw prices rise 5.6 percent year-over-year.

Las Vegas, Seattle and San Francisco are now seeing the fastest-rising prices in the nation, according to the index. Home prices aren’t falling in any of the 20 metros included in the survey.

The cooling market is welcome news for people hoping to buy homes, who have seen prices climb at rates far exceeding that of wages. That’s been paired with rising rents, which has made saving for a down payment difficult.

“Until recently, home values in many of the nation’s largest and hottest housing markets had been growing at double-digit annual rates, which can make saving for a down payment feel like trying to hit a rapidly moving target,” Aaron Terrazas, an economist for the real-estate website Zillow, said in a statement. “Home value growth slowing to merely an ‘above average’ pace could give beleaguered buyers a chance to catch their breath.”

But it also comes as mortgage rates are beginning to rise after years near record lows. Low rates have kept monthly payments manageable even as prices soared, and the reversal will further curb buying power.

Home sales have slowed, suggesting the market has reached the limits of affordability. Rent growth has also slowed on average, which would give renters considering buying a home more leeway to wait.

Meanwhile, more homes are coming on the market, and they’re selling more slowly. That’s giving would-be buyers more choice and some opportunity to negotiate. The inventory of homes on the market, however, remains low by historical levels.

The median price for Portland-area homes sold in July was $401,600, according to the listing service RMLS. It rose to $407,500 in August.


View the full article here at Oregon Live

2018’s Greenest Cities in America

“Green” living means a choice to engage in cleaner, more sustainable habits in order to preserve the planet as much as possible. Nearly three in four Americans believe that “the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment.” And a majority of Americans think the government is currently doing too little to improve water and air quality (69% and 64%, respectively).

The Trump administration has recently changed standards for the coal industry, rolling back regulations on coal plant emissions. On the other hand, while many people expected solar power to struggle under new tariffs aimed at goods manufactured abroad, one of the largest solar power companies recently received an exemption. As a result, its stock has soared.

Apart from employing Americans, clean energy and other “green” practices, such as recycling programs and urban agriculture, benefit the environment and public health, all of which contribute to America’s bottom line, according to many experts. Recognizing those advantages, cities across the U.S. have increased their sustainability efforts and benefited economically.

To determine the cities promoting an environmentally friendly lifestyle, WalletHub compared the 100 largest cities across 26 key “green” indicators. Our data set ranges from greenhouse-gas emissions per capita to number of smart-energy policies and initiatives to green job opportunities. Read on for our findings, expert insight from a panel of researchers and a full description of our methodology.

View the full article here at Wallet Hub

21 fall outdoor chores to tackle before you put the garden to bed

There are plants to get into the ground and others to get back into the house before it’s too cold.

There are lawns to fertilize, roofs to de-moss and a whole lot of deadheading to do.

The best part of all this, of course, is it gives you an excuse to spend more time outdoors at a time of year when, let’s be honest here, the scenery is flat-out incredible. Not to mention — but I will anyhow — it can be fun gardening while wearing a fleece.

And if there are fall outdoor chores you have forgotten — or that never occurred to you in the past — we’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Don’t worry; you’ll still have more than enough time to fill out that holiday shopping list.

And if it helps, might we suggest not only buying WUG the gnome of his dreams (shudder), but getting dear Auntie Christy a Star Wars R2-D2 coffee press? You know they’ll love them.

I’ve been out in the garden doing the usual dividing, moving and planting this fall. I also got rid of an old trellis and several chainsaw-carved madrone logs on OfferUp, which is a great way to keep stuff out of the landfill.

You know that old saying, “one person’s old, tired garden junk is another person’s treasure?” I may have mangled that just a little bit, but it’s true nevertheless.

I’m looking forward to my winter indoor nesting time. Who knows, maybe we’ll even finish sanding and staining our kitchen cabinets, which we started last fall. There just never seems to be enough time.

Maybe we need a fifth season: Winter, spring, summer, fall and where did all the time go?


15. Fertilize, seed and mulch your lawn

5 Portland Food Fests to Check Out This Fall

It’s time to look out the window and face the facts: the perpetual overcast, the unending drizzle, and nose-numbing cold is back—and here to stay well into 2019. But you can’t let SAD take over, at least not yet! Here are five food festivals worth bundling up for in the next four weeks.

Apple Tasting

Oct 12—14 & Oct 19–21, Portland Nursery, FREE
For more than 30 years, locals have mobbed the Portland Nursery each fall for bulk apple and pear purchases—and, of course, fruit and cider tastings. This years, there’ll be 60-some varieties to try. Bulk purchases are 99 cents a pound, and there’s no hurry at this family-friendly annual event: all six days feature live music from the likes of Pete Krebs, pumpkin painting, scavenger hunts, and free roaming among the nursery’s rows of potted plants.

Portland Fermentation Festival

6–9:30 p.m., Oct 18, Ecotrust, $10–$25
Sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha are just the start at Ecotrust’s ninth annual “stinkfest.” Last year’s samples introduced Portlanders to Hawaiian okolehao (moonshine, in other words) and Japanese tofu misozuke (often used as a vegan cheese). This year, hobnob with fellow fermenters of everything from hot sauce to natto. The evening event takes place on Ecotrust’s twinkly-lighted rooftop, scored by DJ Jimbo and soused up with cider from Reverend Nat’s.

10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct 21, Castaway, $45–$90
Portland’s first ever Mac & Cheese Festival—a touring event, of sorts, with future iterations scheduled for Austin,  Dallas, and Seattle—will have chefs from Tapalaya, Montage, Mac’d PDX, and many others competing for the title of “Best Mac & Cheese.” At $45, the “Generally Cheesy Admission” tickets ain’t cheap, but do include unlimited tastings and three drink tickets, and, we’d bet, next-day regrets.

Killer Pumpkin Festival

11 a.m to 11 p.m., Oct 27, Rogue Eastside Brewery, FREE
Can’t get enough pumpkin flavor this season? Rogue Brewery’s Killer Pumpkin Festival has your back: putting the squash on every tap, developing a special pumpkin menu to snack on, and providing a legit pumpkin patch for decorating and carving—and smashing. Gratuitous gourds not really your thing? There are also costume contests for adults, lil’ punkins, and even dogs.

Ramen and Whiskey Festival

Noon to 5 p.m., Nov 4, Leftbank Annex, $45–$65
Nothing warms the bones like a bowl of ramen … except maybe chasing that broth with a fine whiskey cocktail. This year, festival organizer Willamette Week partners with Fubonn to present chefs and bartenders from restaurants all over town—Afuri, Noraneko, Boke Bowl, and last year’s Judge’s Choice winner, Double Dragon, back to defend its title.

View the full article here at Portland Monthly

It’s Libra Season: Your October Home Horoscope

Prepare your finest glass cleaner and step through the looking glass, astral voyagers. October’s cosmic clarity is brought to you by the sign of Libra, and the zodiac’s aspirational aesthete has us both reckoning with our spatial reality, and vision-boarding our dream houses.

Libra energy’s notorious sense of “balance” actually reminds us that coming into equilibrium is a highly dynamic, individualized process. Our thresholds for certain extremes, and carefully concocted calibrations are as personal as paint chips.

Consider the concept of alignment in all its various guises this month. What is off kilter inside your heart and inside your space? Take October to look it straight in the eye with love, and to right any crooked paintings on your metaphorical wall.

The other major cosmic news is Venus’ retrograde journey through Scorpio. Contrary to some astral fear-mongering, retrogrades are delicious times to invite that planet’s energy into a private dance, and Venus’ slowed-down sojourn wants us to delve into our desire nature and clear out any cobwebs around worthiness and self-critique.

So dream it big and beautiful, astral voyagers. But don’t forgot to honor exactly what’s here. October wants you to throw back the blinds and let the light, the darkness, and everything in between, flood your boudoir without judgment.

In the Stars: Happy birth month, aspirational angel! You’re capable of a powerful cosmic mixture of realism and idealism, and this particular Libra Season asks you to deeply align those ideals with your blood and your bones. With Venus’ retrograde journey through Scorpio, you’re being asked to really feel into any blocks around intimacy that come from an unwillingness to get friendly, first and foremost, with your own shadowy bits. There is an unprecedented amount of humanness and self-forgiveness available to you this month, Libra. Take this time as an invitation to dance and romance yourself fully without any trace of shame.

In Your Space: Let this down and dirty self-love fest start at home, with all of the hearts, stars, and animal prints one cavern can hold. Follow your tastes completely, no matter any clashing or critical voices buzzing inside your head. It’s a month for unabashedly loving what you love, and letting this remind you that personal palettes and perspectives are invaluable to the world outside your doors. Start with your vanity table and shower rack, and trick them out with collections of items and fragrances that you can simply wear and relish solely for yourself in the comfort of your own boudoir.

In the Stars: Originally, Libra and Scorpio were one sign, and this collaboration between the zodiac’s light and dark sides of partnership will serve you well this month, Scorpio. Where have deep dives into the underbelly started to leave you exhausted and longing for some straightforward sensual release? With Venus traveling retrograde through Scorpio, and Jupiter poised to make its final, expansive stand in your sign, you’re being asked to loosen your grip around your desires, and get touchy-feely with what simply feels good. Let it be easier, sweet Scorpio. And know that this process of embracing ease may just be your most badass move yet.

In Your Space: Easy and breezy are your key design terms this month, Scorpio, and anything that feels heavy, oppressive or challenging simply must go. If you’re able to budget for it, ask for help at every turn. A professional design eye, and cleaning or furniture assembly service will serve as a potent reminder that you don’t have to go it alone, and that you absolutely deserve comfort without having to prove it with blood, sweat, and tears. Swap out old duvets, plump up pillows, and upgrade pasta bowls. It’s time to settle in with your snacks and celebrate your spatial worthiness.

In the Stars: As the Libra Sun forms a supportive angle to your sign, you’re being asked to hone your focus so you can best utilize the resources on hand. The concept of narrowed focus sometimes makes you feel stifled, but this month, treat the art of strategy like a grand reconnaissance adventure. Gather information on the ground. Be willing to open wide to another, seemingly oppositional point of view. Friction and perceived limits are actually your besties right now. With Jupiter poised to enter your sign for a year-long transit, starting in November, you’re being asked to pause and realign before this next cycle’s radical leaps.

In Your Space: Follow the motto that how you do one thing is how you do everything, Sag, and start with a single room overhaul, or even a closet. There’s no need to pull spatial cleansing all nighters, or to stage epic redesigns right now. By all means, you can hold the big picture vision in your mind’s eye. Just let it unfold step-by-step without having to fly into excess mode. And celebrate the creative potential of seeming constraints by working around statement pieces, upgrading wall art, and reveling in the finely-tuned potential of drawer organizers and storage pieces.

View the full article here at Apartment Therapy

The Best Time to Buy a House May Be Fall After All

The best time to buy a house has long been considered the spring and summer. Meanwhile, their seasonal sibling, fall, often gets tossed to the leaf pile by potential buyers who might think autumn is just about haunted houses and turkey dinners rather than house hunting.

But surprise! Fall is not only a great time to buy a house, it might also be the best season to find the perfect property (and not just because you can browse the listings while cupping a pumpkin latte).

The best time to buy a house for cheap

The best month to snag a deal when buying a home? October. This isn’t just some random guess; it’s based on RealtyTrac’s analysis of more than 32 million home sales over 15 years. The resulting data showed that on average, October buyers paid 2.6% below estimated market value at the time for their homes.

For a house that would normally be $300,000, 2.6% translates into a $7,800 discount. Those savings are nothing to sneeze at, so bargain hunters should get hopping once autumn rolls around. (For an even better deal, aim for Oct. 8, when buyers get a home, on average, at 10.8% below estimated market value.)

“For buyers looking for a better deal, fall is a great time to make offers,” says New YorkCity Realtor® Joanne RDouglas. (In case you’re wondering, the worst month for buyers is April, when homes sell for 1.2% above estimated market value. The worst single day is Jan. 19, with an average 9.6% premium.)

Less competition

Like a beach after Labor Day, the realty market clears out as the days turn crisp. Most summer buyers have already found a home, meaning a fall buyer will have way less competition for the available houses on the market, says Bill Golden of Re/Max Metro Atlanta Cityside. And don’t worry about those buyers who didn’t close before August, either.

“Many folks will drop out of the market until after the new year,” says Golden, giving a fall buyer even greater room to roam at open houses. There may not be as many properties to choose from, but as Golden says, “a little patience and perseverance could reap big rewards.”

Worn-out home sellers

Say hello to your little friend, leverage. Sellers who have their homes on the market in the fall “are generally people who need to sell, which can make for better negotiations for the buyer,” says Golden. And if a home you have your eye on has been on the market all summer, you’re really in the driver’s seat as far as making an offer the seller can’t refuse. The longer a home sits on the market, the more negotiating power the buyer wields.

The holidays are around the corner

Not only are most home sellers worn out after the summer selling season, they’re also caught between a real estate rock and a hard place in that the holidays are barreling down on them. If they want to move and settle down in time to host Thanksgiving and put up their Christmas lights, they’ll have to close, fast. So use this pre-holiday window to your advantage by offering to help them vacate fast if they cut you a deal.

Year-end tax credits

No one wants to buy a home purely to make their accountant happy. But there’s a sweet added incentive to that makes the best time to buy a housee sometime near the end of the fiscal year. Come the following April 15, you might be able to take some nice tax deductions, including closing costsproperty tax, and mortgage interest, to offset your taxable earnings.

More quality time with your real estate team

As the year comes to an end, fewer buyers also means you should have the full attention of your real estate agent, mortgage broker, real estate lawyer, and everyone else on your house hunting team. This is the best time to ask all those questions you have about earnest moneydue diligence, title transfers, and more without feeling like you’re horning in their busiest season to turn a buck.

Home improvement bargains

Once you close on that home you found in the fall, you may want to upgrade your appliances. Luckily, December is when major appliances—refrigerators, stoves, washers, and dryers—are at their very cheapest, according to Consumer Reports. It’s also the best time of year to buy cookware and TVs.

So once you’re settled in (and provided you have any money left), get ready to renovate!


View the full article here on Realtor

Can my neighbor do that? Feeding birds can become a messy issue

Oh, civility. It resides in some neighborhood, hasn’t arrived yet in others. Knowing city laws can take the sting, and emotion, out of an errant parked car, predawn noise and other annoying habits from the people next door. Oregonian archive photo used to add levity to the topic.

Most neighbors don’t mind neighbors feeding birds. The problem begins when too many birds and squirrels hang around the feeding structures. The city of Portland enacted an ordinance that all exterior property areas must be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition, free from any accumulation of rubbish or garbage.

Most cities make it clear if trees are public or private, based on the location of the trunk. If your neighbor’s branches are hanging over your yard, you can prune them to the property line as long as you don’t destroy the tree or go on your neighbor’s property without permission. Here’s Portland’s tree guidelines: www.portlandoregon.gov/trees/article/528110

Is there a law to stop the neighbor’s loud music from shaking the windows of your house? By city code, Quiet Time is 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Families with young children especially need this quiet time on weekday nights during the school year.

Cigarette and fireplace smoke can drift into open windows across property lines. No laws regulate this. Neighbors should be considerate, especially in the summer.

What’s bugging you on your block? You can get free mediation and facilitation services to help find solutions to conflict at the Resolutions Northwest in Portland (503-595-4890; resolutionsnorthwest.org) or Beaverton’s Dispute Resolution Center ((503-526-2523; beavertonoregon.gov/562/Dispute-Resolution).

View the full article here at Oregon Live