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Monday, November 17, 2008

Bubbling over

These are hard times for residential real estate, that's for sure. Builders, realtors, flippers, people trying to sell, people trying to borrow and buy, mortgage peddlers, publishers of real estate ads -- they're all suffering. So much so that the Street of Dreams may be downsizing to the Street of Particle Board Apartments.

But hey, the entrepreneurial spirit lives on. One area realtor is showing awareness of the current realities by compiling and posting a database of desperate sellers who have been waiting a long time for anything like their asking prices. That SoWhat condo they wanted $1.2 million for in March 2007? They'll take $800,000 for it now -- probably a fair amount less.

Meanwhile, an alert reader sends us a link to this little stinker in the shadow of the aerial tram [rim shot] in Lair Hill. Originally listed at $429,900, it's now down to $299,900 -- a 30 percent price cut, and still languishing, apparently. The ghosts of that once picturesque neighborhood are laughing.

Comments (18)

And Portland -Northwest in general is better than most states.
There is ( a story posted on a big development in California where 90% of the homes are in banko. 90%!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Obama needs a new deal 2 to roll out right away & get hammers swinging again. Also a 1 year plan to offer 30 year fixed to people who QUALIFY for 3.9%. That would get this cancer ridden economy moving again.

I think your examples of lowered prices point more to how overheated our market got (thanks to baby boomer retirement funds, pre-crash, and to people cashing in in Calif. and Seattle and then moving here), compared with our actual median income in Portland. Yeah, housing is cheap compared with those markets, but so are salaries here.

When you look at the Lair Hill house, it's very nice and easily could be stunning. But the finishes and the craftsmanship as shown in the photos are not really upscale -- they seem more builder grade. At 299K, I can begin to see it. Not at the 429K price -- it's not even a standalone house. (And the tram doesn't figure into my thinking -- I'm just looking at the pictures.)

As for SoWhat condo canyon, I always thought the prices there had more to do with what builders and buyers were smoking rather than with reality.

Talea makes a lot of good common sense. It seems to me the market drop for the home mentioned is only what the reality should be for many other homes here.

The medium income in Portland is around 63K. In 1980 when I bought my 1st home it was around 40K. (I think these numbers are pretty close if you should check)

My first home cost 54k and it would easily sell today for around 425k, or 500k 2 years ago. A nine or ten fold increase in any case!

The math does not add up for people with an income of 63k being able to buy their first homes today. Values must still come down if we ever want to see our children buy something. I fear a bailout will only waste a lot of money and stall the inevitable drop that needs to occur.

Educate me here, because my "buyer beware" radar went off just looking at that listing. What is a "two-car tandem garage"? I see what appears to be a one-car garage ... does this mean it's deep enough for two cars?

Also, I note that there are 2.1 bathrooms listed. What constitutes one-tenth of a bath?

Tandem is two-car end to end, as you surmised. I'm not sure why realtors use the form of decimal cited, but it's common. .1 means one fixture (usually a toilet), .2 means two fixtures.

Thanks for the prompt reply, PMG. Though this means I have no excuse not to get back to work.

Wasn't it just last week that Mark Cuban was chiding the Obama economic advisory team for its failure to include such sterling examples of entrepreneurship as this:

Out in Gresham there are a number of homes in the Persimmon Golf Club development that have been empty and for sale for months on end. And yet the dummies that own the homes have barely lowered the prices. I think some sellers in this market need to wake up and realize the incomes here do not support some of these absurd prices. Given the current national economy, I don't think there will be a lot of corporate moves for the next few years; and suspect if anyone is going to buy your home, it's likely they will be someone from this area.

I'm trying to spot a 'growth industry' where I could happily put my heart in its work. (What I mostly see are variations on an inherit-the-mantle, older-generation-handing-off-to-the-upstarts scene, from an old old old old old movie The Graduate in which the unsuitable 'handover' was: "one word: plastics.") The main immediate prospect I foresee is, (in a word), 'homemade electricity.' Residences need installed 'windmills.'

Like old-time homes needed a TV antenna mounted on the roof, (and a bazillion Dagwood & Blondie cartoons about it); and older-time homes needed a car and a garage replacing the barn, pasture, horse and buggy.

The 'work' of installing residential-scale wind generators is building the support pole or tower -- do NOT use the roof of the house. For a long time I was in denial that a pole was necessary; I'd like the contraption to be at 'ground level.' But the price/performance doesn't pencil out below 20-30 feet where the wind currents are above.

Building ('framing'?) a quick-up stable tower on a small footprint (in the backyard? over the entry sidewalk?), is a tall order.

And a tall order from every residence is a gold mine of full-time job-secure good-wage future employment, for all the hammer-slammers, saw-bosses, masons and foundation pourers, siding/roofing/gutter men, and more, who are out of work as homebuilders.

By code I don't think you are allowed to have only a toilet in a 'bathroom'. (You have to have a sink too.)

I thought the .x part of the bathrooms was the number of partial or half baths. So 2.2 means 2 full bathrooms, and 2 half/partial bathrooms.

Though I seem some people say 2.5 to mean two full and one half bathroom. I have no clue why Realtors can't be consistent.

Mark Cuban can afford to be an entrepreneur because it looks like he's been charged with insider trading.

On a side note, my husband and took a drive around happy valley last weekend, and we could not believe all the empty houses on the hills. It's looks like the additional construction has stopped. Eerie for those still living in the neighborhoods.

"Happy Valley" ?????

like Dubya's "No Child left Behind", the "Patriot Act" and the "Clear Skies Act"

My Bro put in a full price full down offer on a home 4 weeks ago , paid for inspections , and waited , the bank kept saying 'next week' , and Friday was his deadline to them to close , they said maybe Monday... He walked!

I'll tell you right now that that Lair Hill property you mention in the article was never worth more than $300K ever. You can tell just by looking at the cheap craftsmanship of the home interior. People are crazy trying to get so much for their home.

Charging super high prices and then dropping your price 30% is a also a tactic that realtors use to get attention for certain homes.

"And Portland -Northwest in general is better than most states."


PDX (and Seattle) are just ~16 months behind socal.

Basically, 30-40% declines in housing prices are baked in. Whether we go beyond 40% depends on the economy -- and thats not looking good at all.

Welcome to deflation, loanowners!

On the Lair Hill house, note the new exterior paint.

Probably repainted either due to water intrusion problems repaired by removing siding or just painted over.

Typical defective construction


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