Housing markets may not be as hot as previous years, but selling now could be your best bet.

Few people are predicting that 2019 will be a record-breaking year for home prices.

But relatively speaking, 2019 might be the best time for you to put your house on the market. Especially if you’re on the fence about selling this year or next, Nick Ron, CEO of House Buyers of America, recommends going with the devil you know rather than the devil you don’t.

“I think it’ll be better than 2020 and 2021 – who knows what’s going to happen in those years,” Ron says.

Home price growth slowed in the second half of 2018, with fewer buyers entering the market, at least partially due to rising interest rates issued by the Federal Reserve. In 2019, consumers shouldn’t expect homebuyers to flood the market again and drive prices through the roof, but it’s also unlikely to be a crisis for home sellers.

If you bought your house in the last year or two, still love it and don’t want to part with it, go ahead and wait another five years before revisiting the thought of selling. But if you’re weighing your options to sell, considering selling this year or maybe the year after, don’t play the waiting game. Here are four reasons to sell your house in 2019.

New buyers are still entering the market. As interest rates rise, some buyers will hesitate to make an offer on a home or apply for a mortgage, so be ready to see occasional drops in buyer activity. And if your house is at the higher end of the price range in your market, you should expect less buyer interest than before. Ron notes the combination of rising mortgage rates and home prices exceeding buyers’ budgets are what has caused the slowing of homebuyer activity in recent months.

But with available housing inventory remaining low, even with rising interest rates, buyers who are ready to make a purchase will still shop for homes. The biggest wave of new homebuyers will be among millennials, who are mostly first-time buyers. In a Harris Poll survey of 2,000 U.S. adults commissioned by real estate information company Trulia, more than one-fifth of Americans between ages 18 and 34 said they plan to buy a home within the next 12 months. Already, millennials make up the largest share of homebuyers at 36 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors, which released the number in March 2018.

The bottom line: While houses may sit on the market for a few more days on average compared with 2017 when the market was white-hot, buyers remain active and it’s still possible to profit from your home sale.

Interest rates are still low-ish. Mortgage interest rates are rising, reaching 4.87 percent in November for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, per data from Freddie Mac. While rates are at their highest level since February 2011, they remain much lower than the historic high of more than 18 percent in 1981.

It’s important to keep in mind that while mortgage rates tend to mirror the Fed’s interest rate activity, mortgage rates are based on the market in that moment, your financial status and the property you’re looking to purchase.

Just because the Fed raises rates at one meeting doesn’t mean mortgage rates will follow that exact pattern. “Not every Fed increase is passing on (to) a mortgage rate,” says John Pataky, executive vice president and chief consumer and commercial banking executive at TIAA Bank.

A sudden leap in mortgage interest rates is unlikely in 2019, though Pataky notes that you should be ready to see rates continue to climb. “We do expect over the next 12 months that mortgage rates will continue to drift higher,” he says.

If you’re looking to get the lowest interest rate possible on your next house, try to make a deal sooner rather than later.

View the full article here at U.S. News

Metro council voted 7-0, saying the expansion will help the housing crisis

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Metro Council voted ‘yes’ on expanding the urban growth boundary that will allow thousands of acres of land to be developed in Beaverton, Hillsboro, Wilsonville and King City.

All seven council members voted in favor of the proposal Thursday, saying more housing is needed to alleviate the housing crisis.

Those who oppose to the expansion are concerned about its impact on wildlife and family farms.

The vote makes expands the urban growth boundary by 2,200 acres — making room for more than 9,000 new homes in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties.

Beaverton has requested the largest swath of space at more than 1,200 acres in the Cooper Mountain urban reserve area for more than 3,700 new homes. King City made the second-largest request for more than 500 acres to expand the Beef Bend South area for 3,300 homes.

Cities have already submitted plans about how they would support the growth, including how they will guarantee a mix of housing.

Metro Council President Tom Hughes said before he voted, “It may be the boondocks now, but it won’t be the boondocks any longer.”

Some residents feel they had no say in the matter and that the vote is just paving the way for development.

“The material that I have doesn’t even use the word ‘wildlife,'” said concerned resident Barbara Wilson. “They don’t acknowledge there is any wildlife there.”

Critics are also worried about erosion, especially along Fischer Road. A representative for the Tualatin River Keepers said the area is already experiencing extreme erosion caused by runoff from another development.

View the full article here at Koin 6

According to a 2016 study from the Wine Institute, the average American drinks nearly three gallons of wine each year, making the U.S. the largest wine-consuming nation per capita. With stats like these there’s a good chance you enjoy a glass at least on occasion, or if you’re a serious wine enthusiast maybe you’re even considering building your own in-home wine cellar.

If the latter sounds more like you, there are a number of important factors and best practices that you need to bear in mind when it comes to building a wine cellar in your house. Well done, it can contribute to an increase in your home’s value. A poorly done job, however, can possibly have the reverse effect, so plan carefully.

Before you start stacking wine racks and building cabinets, consider these details to make your wine cellar an asset to your home.

Purpose of Your Wine Cellar

Before you charge into action with building an in-home wine cellar, you need to decide how you plan on using it. For example, will the primary purpose of your wine cellar be strictly for storage, to showcase your amazing collection or both? Do you want the cellar to also double as a space for entertaining guests? Answering these questions will help you make the more specific and tactical decisions to bring your dream wine cellar to life.

Location of Your Wine Cellar

The term cellar indicates it will be built in your basement. This makes sense as the climate and other environmental qualities of a basement make it a common and strategic location for your wine cellar. But in the grand scheme of things, you can pretty much put a wine cellar anywhere, so focus on your needs and what space can be made available in your residence, respectively.

Some wine enthusiasts choose to convert a closet or a space under the stairs into a wine cellar. When considering the location, bear in mind that the optimal temperature for a wine cellar is 55 degrees Fahrenheit, with an associated 60 percent relative humidity. Although these are the preferred temperature and humidity conditions, it’s not a total deal breaker if the space varies a little from these ideal settings.

Size of Your Wine Cellar

Four primary factors come into consideration in determining the size of your wine cellar. These are:

  • Available space in your home
  • Amount of wine you want to store
  • Other activities that will occur in space
  • Budget

Assuming this is your first time building out a room, be mindful not to go overboard. Consider piloting the intended space as a makeshift cellar with a small number of bottles and simulating your intended use of the space for a couple weeks.

Proper Cooling System

As mentioned previously, the ideal climate for a wine cellar is a temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of about 60 percent. If you’re planning for your wine cellar to be located where similar conditions already exist, you’ll have an easier task of making the adustments to reach these ideal conditions. If the space is not as accommodating by default, then a proper cooling system will be critical in creating the environment optimal for storing wine.

The size and type of cooling system will largely depend on the intended size of your wine cellar. For more elaborate and larger spaces, consider talking to a professional heating and cooling expert with experience in wine cellars for recommendations on HVAC models that work best for the space. Remember that the cooling system is the heart of your wine cellar, ensuring that your wine is properly cooled, matures gracefully and retains quality and value.

Vapor Barrier

You may need to consider the necessity of what is known as a vapor barrier. When properly installed, a vapor barrier prevents unnecessary and potentially damaging moisture from forming inside the walls of your wine cellar. The type of vapor barrier will depend on the insulation used within the wine cellar. If you’re using common fiberglass or rigid foam insulation, you will need to wrap the walls and ceiling with a poly vapor barrier. This will ensure that the wine cellar is completely sealed. If you’re using a basement location, consider special flooring options that prevent mold growth and contribute toward the ideal cool and humid environment.

Wine Cellar Door

The type of door you install is another important consideration. You absolutely must have a door that seals completely in order to effectively contain and control the climate inside the cellar.

If you intend for your wine cellar to be more than just a place for storage, you’ll want to contemplate more stylized options that enhance the appearance of the space itself. If you’re planning to make the wine cellar a showcase space or a place to entertain, consider wrought iron and glass doors, as they not only facilitate proper sealing of the space, but they also add a sense of elegance and style. Prefabricated wrought iron and glass doors are available and can also be custom ordered to fit your exact dimensions and desired style.

Wine Racks

There are generally two options available when it comes to wine racks for your cellar – prefabricated wine racks or custom-made wine racks. Determining whether to purchase wine racks and cabinets “off the rack” versus having them custom made is primarily a cost consideration. If money and time are of no issue, you may as well opt for splurging on a custom wine rack kit made of your ideal materials and finishes. Otherwise, there are plenty of premade styles and price points, and you should be able to find one that works.

Professional Assistance

If this is your first time building a wine room, professional assistance is strongly recommended, especially if you plan on making structural changes and installing cooling components. There are professionals with experience in all aspects of constructing and outfitting a residential wine cellar and it may be cheaper to hire their services than dealing with repairs and renovations from a bad do-it-yourself job.

professional contractor with experience in wine cellars can help develop a blueprint for your room, or take your vision and turn it into a reality all while being mindful of factors that go beyond just look and feel. If you live in a relatively major city, wine cellar construction and installation specialists should be a simple Google search away.

Decorating Your Wine Cellar

Although your wine cellar should be professionally constructed, furnishing and decorating is something that most people can and do undertake as a DIY project. As is the case with most interior design projects, you can truly imprint your own sense of style to the room. Some choose a more classic look, decorating the wine cellar to replicate styles from centuries ago. At the opposite end of the spectrum, others select a design that exudes a more sleek and modern feel.

When decorating your wine cellar, keep the focus on the wine itself. The decorations should be selected in a manner that visually celebrates the wine and doesn’t make it a secondary element of the space.

If done right, this wine cellar can become the part of your home that evokes a true sense of pride as well as contribute to the property value. Follow these best practices and you should end up with a space that is much more than just a spot to store wine.

View the full article here at U.S. News

Building a house can teach you a lot.

Abby Hartung picked up power tool skills and CPR training, She learned to measure, lay down vinyl flooring, install a closet, seal windows, assemble cabinets. She got the hang of it as she went, while professional contractors showed her and 73 other young people how to build houses. 

“From the ground up,” 21-year-old Hartung said. “From the dirt to the concrete, to the framing, to the floor, to the walls. Everything. It’s been really really cool.”

She’s part of Heart of Oregon YouthBuild. The program gives job training and a small stipend to people between 16 and 24. In exchange, they work to build new, rent-to-own houses for people with agricultural jobs. The youth crew just finished the last of six homes in the Casa Soñada subdivision, a cul-de-sac in Madras.

Hartung said besides learning the tools of the construction trade, the program helped her nail down the last credits she needed for a high school diploma.

She talked about her plans for the future on the ribbon-cutting day for the final Casa Soñada house. She took off her shoes before she went in and looked proudly around the master bedroom, admiring its clean bright lines one last time.

Jose Arzate looked around the same room and felt his son’s hands.

His son Angel was part of the YouthBuild crew. He represented it on a trip to Washington, D.C., before, at 18, he was killed in a car wreck. Angel liked to run, play the guitar, bang on the drums, and according to his dad, he loved construction.

“And that’s one of the reasons he came to YouthBuild, because he really thought he could make it, that he could learn a lot of things. And you know, he did,” Jose Arzate said.

A year after Angel’s death, his family moved into a Casa Soñada house. 

“It’s one of the houses we always wanted. Because my son. He put his hands in these houses,” Jose Arzate explained, his voice breaking.

“So, that’s one of the reasons we want to stay in the house as long as we can — All my life if I can.”

Arzate works on a Central Oregon hay farm. Rent for the house is about $600 per month, made possible by two Central Oregon nonprofits — Housing Works and NeighborImpact — managing the property.  After 10 years, the family gets the option to buy the house for the cost of construction, which Jose Arzate said he “absolutely,” plans to do.

Living there helps him remember the son he lost, but it’s also where he’ll welcome another son home. A baby boy named Alex Arzate was born this week.


View the full article here at OPB

The last time you got a raise, did you potentially daydream of moving to some far-off amazing place? Well, your options may be limited, because that amazing locale might come with a super high price tag—especially if you want to live abroad. The Economist recently updated their list of most expensive cities in the world, and surprisingly, pricey American cities didn’t even crack the list this year.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) puts out an annual cost of living survey which compares more than 400 individual prices across over 150 products and services. It also ranks major cities by most to least expensive.

For the fifth consecutive year, Singapore retains its title as the world’s most expensive city in a list split between Asia and Europe. While New York City made the list last year (tied with Copenhagen, Denmark), no American cities were on the list this year.

Check out the full list below:

Most Expensive Cities in the World

1. Singapore
2. Paris
3. Zurich
4. Hong Kong
5. Oslo
6. Geneva
7. Seoul
8. Copenhagen
9. Tel Aviv
10. Sydney

What does life look like in each of these cities in terms of day-to-day purchases? Pretty pricey—and climbing. As shown throughout the chart below, prices have continued to increase in each of these cities year by year, with the EIU including prices from 2008 for comparison. (We’ll take a bottle of wine in Geneva, please!)

And while Singapore may be super expensive, it still offers some value to its residents. While it may be the most expensive place in the world to buy a car and the third most expensive location to buy clothing, it does offer fairly reasonable pricing on personal care, household goods, and domestic help.

But all pricey cities are not created equal: Of the top 10 list, the European cities–Paris, Zurich, Oslo, Geneva, and Copenhagen – are more costly in terms of household, personal care, recreation, and entertainment, with Zurich and Geneva being the most expensive. The cities in Asia–Singapore, Hong Kong, and Seoul–tend to be pricier for general grocery shopping.

Surprised that San Francisco and New York City aren’t on the list? Politics and economics—like tariffs, a strong economy, and the weakening value of the dollar—have changed the dynamics for how popular U.S. cities rank on the list this year. For example, New York City fell four spots to a 13th ranking.

View the full article here at Apartment Therapy

New research finds that Millennials are 21 percent more likely to buy their first homes near city centers than Generation X.

If there’s a single question that has gnawed at urban economists and planners over the past few years, it’s this: Will Millennials’ well-known love of cities fade once they have kids and need space for double strollers and play kitchens, or is it a more lasting shift in how Americans will decide where to live? We’ve heard the argument that Millennials have “peaked” in cities and will eventually suburbanize from demographer Dowell Myers (cited by Conor Dougherty in the New York Times), and the counter-argument from City Observatory’s Joe Cortright and others. One researcher, Harvard’s Hyojung Lee, has tried to square the circle by arguing that Millennials are both urban and suburban.

Although it doesn’t put the debate to rest, a new paper shows that Millennials are at least continuing to tilt urban as they stop renting and become homeowners.

The paper, published in the Journal of Planning Education and Research, looks at whether Millennial first-time homebuyers (defined as those born between 1980 and 2000) are more likely to buy homes near city centers than their counterparts in Generation X. Authors Elora Raymond of Clemson University, Jessica Dill of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and Yongsung Lee of Georgia Institute of Technology used a logistic regression model controlling for age and generation; they also controlled for income, credit score, car ownership, mortgage size, mortgage payment, and student-debt level. The upshot: The odds of Millennials buying near city centers are 21 percent higher than for Generation X.

The study’s dataset was a random sample of more than 100,000 personal credit records from 2001 to 2016. Out of that, the researchers selected people who took out mortgages for the first time, then narrowed that subset to first-time buyers within a 10-mile radius of the country’s 50 biggest Metropolitan Statistical Areas. “It’s a random sample of a very large slice of the population, and it’s truly random,” said Raymond. Collecting 15 years of data let the authors compare Gen Xers and Millennials buying first homes at the same ages—but also at different ages.

Interestingly, despite all we’ve read about ballooning student-loan debt and stagnant incomes, Millennials buying homes for the first time had a higher median credit score than their older counterparts for most of the study period. The median age of first-time homebuyers actually went down slightly year on year from the peak of the housing boom—from 35 in 2001 to 33 in 2014. Credit tightened more for older buyers than for younger buyers after the crash, possibly because it had loosened more for them during the boom. That “may explain why first-time home purchases have fallen faster for older buyers than younger buyers,” the authors write.

A strong credit score and high income had “a small but significant relationship” with the purchase of a close-in home. But the factors that really influenced whether a first-time buyer moved within 1 mile of a city center were not financial. They were age (younger adults are more likely to live near city centers, irrespective of generation); being a member of the Millennial generation; and not owning a car. The effect of owning a car or two on not living downtown was striking:

The number of cars sharply reduced the odds of buying one’s first home in a city center. Owning one car corresponded with 21 percent lower odds, and those who owned two cars had 41 percent lower odds of purchasing homes in city centers.

The policy implications are, in short, that the U.S. must plan for higher densities and non-car mobility if the back-to-the-city movement is not a blip.

Raymond acknowledged it’s possible that even if Millennials buy their first homes in the city, they could still go on to buy their second (and third) homes in more distant locations after that. Perhaps a starter condo comes before the leap to a suburban Cape Cod. But the finding about first homes is significant regardless, she said.

“The main point is: Their first home is closer to downtown or more likely to be right downtown than a Gen Xer’s first home. A lot of people have said, ‘Millennials are just renting downtown.’ That’s what this paper shows is not true.”

View the full article here at CITYLAB

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

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

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









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