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Real Estate in Spring (and Beyond)

There’s been some really interesting and impactful changes in our industry recently, but more on that in a moment. For now, let’s talk about the real estate market in our own backyard.

Well-prepped and smartly-priced houses are receiving multiple offers and the homes I listed earlier in Spring may have had fewer showings than in years past, but the buyers looking were very serious and wrote strong offers. I’m beginning to see the seasonal inventory uptick that comes with warmer weather as well. This is always welcome news – especially as we’re still mired in a huge housing crisis and deficit – and Spring awakenings aren’t just for the birds and bees. I’m expecting many more listings on our blossoming streets soon, as buyers shake off winter’s slumber, and families return, invigorated, from Spring break.

My hope is that these changes will bring success for both buyers and sellers as things even out a bit. Fingers crossed that interest rates trend downwards a bit, too.

Okay, so onto what every single realtor you know is buzzing about right now: the NAR settlement. There’s a lot of confusing info going around on what this means for buyers and sellers, and I’ve deliberately avoided a knee-jerk response so that I could consider it a little before jumping in with my vantage point.

First, let me acknowledge that change can feel scary. And I have been plenty shocked, myself, witnessing how the media is portraying portions of the new real estate developments on how Buyer Agents are paid.

I have long had issues with what I consider to be some of the National Association of Realtors’ less scrupulous practices – their political lobbying, for example – and yes, learning of some really gross practices from the big firms on a national scale has shook me a bit, but ultimately (and especially in my little pocket of the PDX real estate world) I know we will continue to find ways to help clients safely, ethically, and affordably buy and sell real estate with an agent by their side.

My job, when I’m helping you buy, is to assist you in navigating myriad moving parts in what is typically the largest and most complicated investment of your lifetime, ensuring you have the tools and resources to safely vet the property and fully understanding what you’re signing up for. Yes, this helps sellers execute their goals as well, for sure.

This “pay it forward” system where sellers offer Buyer Agent compensation spawned from a really dark place in the 80’s and 90’s. Buyers were typically going unrepresented – and you all know it’s not easy to come up with a down payment, closing costs, and fees to pay a Buyer Agent all at the same time. So seller-paid commissions being offered to Buyer Agents was how the market seemingly recalibrated itself in an attempt to make it a safer, fairer endeavor. The issue according to the lawyers is that these commissions were being offered in our Multiple Listing Service (MLS), creating more of a “common” standard of practice on what commission fees were charged to the seller. Though I understand the need or desire for more awareness on how agents are paid, commissions have always been and will continue to be negotiable.  There will also always be the more “typical” costs of doing business, regardless if it’s posted on MLS, because there IS a cost, and humans tend to follow the patterns and practices of other fellow humans. This all said, I can understand how other parts of the country that don’t see such large gains on homes like we do here are more burdened by this practice of sellers paying a buyer agent fee. And it’s also true that most sellers, especially in our part of the world, have the equity to afford fees once they’d been established as a home owner…whereas new buyers are often just scraping their money together to get a foot in the door – and that’s nationally, not just here. It’s definitely a lot to think about for sure, and honestly, no perfect solutions are in sight, but that’s life in a nutshell. 

Though there absolutely can (ie: should) be a shake-up of the housing industry given the changing times – considering we are in a true housing crisis nationally, and I consider housing a basic human right (I hope you do, too) – I’m just not sure the root of our housing woes can be resolved in the way that this settlement is panning out, as it reverts some of the steps we’ve put in place so that buyers don’t have to compromise on having an expert advocating for their sole interests. Can you imagine trying to navigate home buying, solo, for the first time? And having a listing agent represent the buyer and seller (dual agency) has never been a good idea, considering it’s such a brazen conflict of interest. So this almost feels like a regression -vs- a positive and equalizing step forward to make the situation more fair and equitable.

Home ownership, as most of you know firsthand, has the most tangible impact to improve lives and help create long term housing and financial stability. That’s why my job is so rewarding, and why I do what I do. Unfortunately – and to be honest, unsurprisingly – the people who stand to lose the most by this shake-up are those with the least amount of money, and those who are already in underserved communities: low-income buyers, minorities, and the elderly. Oof. These “unintended consequences” are pretty concerning to me. A healthy community is a balanced one where everyone is given the opportunity to survive and flourish.

So far, every seller I’ve spoken to locally understands that high interest rates combined with lack of inventory means buyers will need help covering costs now more than ever. And sellers can and still are willing to cover those costs so that buyers can safely navigate a home purchase. It may just be offered in the sale agreement -vs- in the MLS. Nothing is set in stone yet as it’s all still being worked out, and it’s likely to remain in the MLS until the July deadline to forego offering them there takes place.

Let’s not forget that sellers and their Listing Agents also benefit from buyers being well-represented. The transaction should go a lot smoother, and there’s far less risk of future upsets or litigation.

That all being said, commissions have always been negotiable, and I’m here to help you execute your goals, keeping as much $ in your pocket as possible. My values are unwavering. I come from a place of service to help others reach their objectives – or I don’t get paid. That won’t ever change. I’ve always got your back, and I will work tirelessly to ensure you secure housing in the most beneficially and affordable way possible.

That’s a lot, I know. But if you want to read more about it, I’ve picked out two great articles that’ll dig a little deeper into what’s going down – here, and here. And as always, I’m available to chat one-on-one any time, so don’t hesitate to reach out. I’ve got you.

Spring Things for Home + Garden

Are you itching to get out into the garden? I know I sure am. Every year there’s an existential, emotional battle being waged as to when we actually put our tomatoes into the ground – with so many false starts to actual Spring – so hope you’re prepared for that, as well.

  • If you’re not quite ready to open your windows, at least consider opening your attic and crawl space vents to let out that musty air build up. While you’re doing this, you can also inspect these spaces to make sure they’re critter-proof – no-one wants squirrels, raccoons, or opossums setting up nursery in their attic.
  • Reviving your home post-winter is really all about seeing if the cold weather and occasional freezes did any damage to your home that could have a serious impact in the future. Check your siding, window surrounds, etc, for rot and water damage, and if you find something? Add it to your #1 priorities for having it repaired. Foundational water damage is no joke, friends.
  • Look, none of us are perfect, and you might have ignored your 3 month alerts for cleaning out your HVAC filters – been there. However, Spring’s a great time to dedicate some energy to this. Check your coils and filters are clean, and if you have A/C, get it serviced for the coming hot hot hot weather. This’ll also keep your home energy efficient, and you know how much I love energy efficient.
  • Now for the really fun stuff! Get those seeds into your veggie garden, stat! Beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, peas…loads of staples can be direct-sown right now, and if you’re on the hunt for starts consider stopping by Small Yard Farms in Cully on Saturday, March 30th for their annual Spring Plant Sale + Mimosas. If the starts don’t convince you, the coffee, pastries, and mimosas will. You get to support a cool local LGBTQ+-owned urban farm, and stock your vegetable beds with delicious produce.

Urban Nest has their finger on the pulse of what’s going on in Portland, and that’s why I always share their curated picks for the coming month. Add these fun events to your calendar, and get out there in our gorgeous city!

Last weekend I headed up to Seattle, and visited Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, and the Museum of Pop Culture which featured a Films of Liaka exhibit! Sometimes we skip all the incredible stuff within easy reach because we’ve gotten so used to it just being there, so it was really refreshing to play tourist with my people. Of course, I spent lots of time with my best friend and Seattle resident, and his two cats (of which I’m convinced are the fluffiest beings on Earth).

It’s awesome to get out and explore our neighbor big city, then come home to appreciate the size and pleasantries of Portland. Seattle, you’re super cool, but you make Portland still seem affordable…which makes sense, considering the stats show that the bulk of folks moving here are coming from Seattle, San Francisco, and LA. All things considered, homes are still affordable in PDX compared to the other big cities on the West Coast, and the quality of life is better, too. Yeah, I said it.

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