Home Buying in Far Southwest>Question Details

CJ, Home Buyer in 97301

Hi All. Just moved here from Wisconsin. The picking look a little thin. Is this sign of the holidays Will I find spring for sale signs blooming inMay?

Asked by CJ, 97301 Tue Dec 6, 2011

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Hi CJ . . . you're writing from Salem (zip code 97301) and Marion County isn't fully covered in the Metro Portland RMLS range. They are on a separate Multiple Listing Service. I mention this, because of the link I'm providing. It's a blog post I wrote which addresses what you suspect: inventory is down. Yes, the "picking" is a little thin.

The blog is reflective of the inventory in the Metro Portland region: "New Listings" "Pending Sales" and "Solds" during the comparative months of October.

You're, most likely, experiencing the same "low inventory" in your area.

The post was written to compare Oct '10 to Oct '11 stats in the Metro Portland market, SW Portland. It shows inventory down 22% over last year October for new listings which hit during the month. I'll probably do another market report today to see what November is doing (you inspired me) . . . but I'm guessing the stats will show inventory down. Keep in mind the 22% decrease is in October . . . not even the beginning of the winter lull.

Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner
EBA Portland, LLC
Exclusive Buyer Agency since 1999
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011
Good catch on the zipcode, Carla! Got my thumbs up. I dont know whats going on in that area but statewide stats are dismal. Of course there are always pockets that defy the norm. Certain streets in Portland with horrible turn-of-the-century floorplans, no garages or even off street parking are very popular and have been appreciating. Othe areas may have hit a bottom and will hold or perhaps go up a bit.. It takes careful hunting.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011
Ive sold real estate for 31 years. There has always been a slight uptick in activity just before x-mas, as people want a place of their own to put up the tree, and some folks have a tax or other legal need to own (or sell what they had) by years end.

I hate the word SALES, but the 'sales' part of me should be giving you a rosy picture and telling you that there is always a gem to be had if you look hard enough.

The reality is that the Pacific Norhwest is in the worst overall shape in the Union. We started out well and held our own while Calif , Florida, etc were imploding, but it hit hard here and wont go away. Sellers have no equity orknow they cant afford to move up. They cant find anything anyway, because of all the others like them who are not selling. Buyers are convinced that we have a further drop in values on the way. Some large companies tracking data are saying we have another 20% to drop on average. I have to duck now---other salespeople just threw rocks at my head!

So, I doubt you will see any BLOOM here in the spring. It will most likely be like this past spring/summer. More activity than winter but nothing to crow about. I value homes for banks. They are mini-appraisals called Broker Price Opinions, and the banks use these to decide on foreclosing, marketing, etc. Having done about 2,000 homes all over our main three counties during the past 18 months, I know values and trends throughout the neighborhoods. Contact me if you want pure buyer representation. I usually do not solicit business from these answers but since many others are, here is my hat in the ring, lol.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011
Hi CJ,

Inventory levels have been down around 6 - 6.5 months (meaning if no new listings came on the market, how long would it take to sell everything currently listed with the current average days on market) for about five months now. Earlier in the year, inventory levels were around 11 months, so one could conclude either there is less on the market at this time or the homes are just selling faster. It's actually a mix. An inventory level around 6 months is considered a balanced market, which is what we now have in the Portland metro area.

However, as others mentioned, coming up to the holiday period can be scary for sellers, so many decide to list after the holidays. Also, the banks are holding their inventory for this and other reasons, but we should see more REO's hitting the market after the holiday season.

If you are needing a good Realtor to help you in your search, please do not hesitate to contact me. I can also help you search through listings that may have expired that can be additional options that are not currently on the market. Feel free to call or email me directly. Good luck with your search.


Mandy Lewis
Real Estate Broker
Windermere Realty Group
503-522-5803 direct
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011
Things have slowed due to foreclosures being held up and sellers that really dont have to move have no reason to put thier homes on the market unless they want to move up or move down. I do think you will see more come spring but dont delay on that account. You may find the perfect house now and how sad to miss it by not staying aware of what is on the market.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011
CJ - Welcome to Portland!

Congratulations on your recent move. You are right to take note of the slim pickings. There are several factors that lead many sellers’s to wait and they are: the holidays, the weather, and the days being shorter. Many sellers will wait until spring to make the move, but not all.

On the other side, there are seller's that know that anyone looking to buy this time of year is a serious buyer. Homes are selling in this holiday season and the smart seller and buyer are making it work.

The bottom line - if you don't mind trekking through the wet and cold, you can find some real gems out there.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 9, 2011
Good answers already. I'd recommend signing up for RMLS Market Action statistical monthly reports. It is neutral and focuses on the data. You'll see more homes for sale in the spring.

Best of luck finding the right place for you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011
Hahaha! Well, Larry and I have always been like that. You should have seen him when we were kids. He was a real jerk. But I got bigger in my teenage years and haven't really stopped giving him his payback. Thanks for asking!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011
I only have one other question for you then, CJ---why were you always so mean to Larry?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011
Thank you all for your input! I feel like I got to have a little lunch with a nice cross-section of the realty professionals in Portland. I am writing from a Salem zip code, but we are looking to buy in Southwest Portland. Your contributed information, Carla, remains very helpful and pertinent to our search.

I should have clarified on my think pickings statement. I didn't mean that phrase in terms of I don't like anything I am seeing, I just meant that I thought I would see more options because I have been visiting southwest Portland for the past 10 years, mostly in the spring and summer, and the for sale signs and sold signs have seemed thicker than now. I wasn't getting at a quality question so much as a seasonal comparison between two very different markets.

Everything really does button up and wait for the spring thaw in Wisconsin. I wouldn't think the same would happen here because it just gets wet. But the data Marvin and Carla and Mandy provided helped to cut through those generalities and truisms about real estate in the winter.

Thank you all very much!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011
Hi CJ. Welcome to our corner of the world. Inventories are down now for all the reasons mentioned. It's still a good time to familiarize yourself with what is available in the area you have chosen. Depending on where you are looking there is still some new construction out there and that dribbles out onto the market continuously. This would also be the perfect time to get your financing in place. If you aren't already working with a lender I would be happy to give you some names. There are even a few 100% financing options available if that sounds attractive. Enjoy the holidays.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011
Welcome to Portland. Coming from Wisconsin has got to be a change! You've gotten a lot of good answers here already but my answer is also yes. If you're not seeing much that you like at the moment, I think even January and February you will begin to see more listings. Then of course spring always brings more homes to choose from. I actually just wrote a post about this on my website yesterday. If you haven't already, it may be a good idea to get yourself a buyer's agent (like myself) to get a search set up for you just in case something does pop up that you like!

Betsy Ballantyne
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011
CJ winter is the best time to buy because only sellers that need to sell have their homes on the market now. Inventory goes down but you don't have all the sellers that are testing the market and then when the house does not sell by September it is back off the market until next spring when of course the market should be better for what the seller wants. Rates are at a 50 year low if they go up 1% your buying power will come down. There are areas and price ranges that we are seeing multiple offers in the locations that are always good never doubt the location, location, location as the only true place to buy real estate that will hold the value the best when the market turned as it did 4 years ago. Good luck to you.
Tom Inglesby, Broker
RE/MAX Equity Group
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011
CJ: I have a theory on this! For the last 2 years I've noticed an uptick in activity in November/December. It's very odd as usually potential buyers & sellers are distracted by the holiday season! But, another issue is competitively priced properties move quickly and what's left is over-priced or challenged properties. Thus, making the inventory appear
Web Reference: http://fabulousportland.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011

Real estate listings are usually reduced during the holiday season and the end of the year. I encourage my buyers to look what is on the market during this time of year. There are less buyer’s looking resulting in less competition. Sellers tend to be more negotiable because there are having fewer showings. Homes show better with the holiday decorations. You will have the opportunity to buy a home next year if you can’t find a home before the end of the year. Best wishes on your home search!

Carol Perdew
Prudential California Realty
(209) 239-7979
DRE 985176
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011
Hello CJ
Their are several homes on the market, however a lot of people take them off the market for the holidays. I believe that many start to prepare for selling and buying near spring. It allows time to settle before he new school year. Their are still a lot of bank owned homes out there on the market and the interest rates are still great. Welcome!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011
Hi CJ, The pickins aren't slim in too many markets , there are still many ready willing and able sellers out there that are just waiting for qualifed buyers that are ready to make a deal. Rather than wait for new listings where sellers will be looking to get the highest & best price you might want to connect with a buyers agent in your area & tell them you have just relocated and are ready to buy. They can help you refine your home search & you may be able to find a suitable house that has been on the market a while that you can buy at a great price. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011

The fact of the matter is that too many sellers feel that the "winter season" for selling homes is a lost cause. It is true that the volume of sales typically drops during this period but nothing could be further from the truth about it being a lost cause.

At this time, buyers are driven by driven by value, opportunity, and NEED. The one constant is the need of the buyer. Buyers that are motivated and have need will be searching for value and opportunity regardless of what the season.

By viewing the market as being "thin pickings" and removing yourself from keeping up to date with opportunities you will likely be correct. On the other hand, by maintaining a positive outlook and continuing to keep yourself updated with the local market you just may be able to find that gem......a home that meets your total needs, in the right location, and being offered at a price that you just can't resist.

Stay in the game.....it can still happen!

Good luck,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 6, 2011
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