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Hello and welcome to our new site, we’re happy to have you!

Over the years our team has acquired an abundance of useful resources and tools for our buyers and sellers. We’ve also worked hard to refine the art of the transaction. In an effort to put our experience, insight and tools directly into your hands, and to create a medium for answering the questions we get asked the most, we’ve created this site. Click around and explore! Be sure to check the blog regularly, as it will be a large part of how we share our real estate knowledge and help you navigate the world of Portland real estate.

Whether you’re selling your 23rd Avenue apartment for a bigger home in Beaverton or moving to Portland from another state, we’re here to help! We’ll post on a wide variety of topics from explaining the value of conducting a home inspection to describing the rivalry between our local Portland Timbers and our neighbors the Seattle Sounders (look out for Rave Green jerseys on game days near Providence Park).

Check here frequently for news, resources, and information about the Portland region and our thriving real estate market.

If there’s a topic you’d like to know more about, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Before you go, check out the rest of our site:

Thanks for stopping by and for considering the Drew Coleman Team to sell or purchase your next home. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions. See you soon.

Cheers,

The Drew Coleman Team

Taxes in Oregon present an interesting balancing act. Some are high, others are low, and some tax laws can be confusing. We’re one of five states with no sales tax. In fact, Oregonians have rejected the introduction of a sales tax nine times. We also have a “kicker law” which doesn’t allow the state to have a surplus in tax revenue. If there is one, it is refunded back to taxpayers.

On the flip side of the equation, Oregon has the third highest income tax in the nation. Overall taxes in the state rank 16th in the nation as a whole at $3,861 per capita annually.

Additionally, there are property taxes. It’s an odd system that likely needs reform and operates in a way that causes inequality for taxpayers. This article explains the system, giving you an idea of what to expect when you’re considering both a home and neighborhood.

How do property taxes in Oregon work?

This three and a half minute video by the Oregonian explains the situation concisely. We’ve also summarized a short history in writing for you to reference.

Timeline for property taxes from 1990 to now:

 

Here’s the issue:

In some neighborhoods, for example inner NE Portland, property values in 1995 (an arbitrary year chosen only because that was when the measure was initially created) were pretty low. Therefore, your taxes start lower when you begin accruing the annual 3 percent increase.

Property values in these areas have grown much more rapidly than in other neighborhoods. So, if you’re purchasing a home in a growing neighborhood, you’ll be paying pretty low taxes in comparison with the value of your home.

However, if you buy a home in the west hills, where property values have not grown as rapidly, you won’t be saving much on your property taxes as the MAV will more closely reflect your home’s current property value.

Why is this system unpopular?

In the two decades since the introduction of Measure 50, an unequal distribution property taxes has been created. If taxes were redistributed according solely to property values, 57 percent of property owners would see their taxes decrease.

Only 43 percent of homeowners save in the current property tax structure. Those that do are generally people who own homes in neighborhoods that have been rapidly gentrifying in recent years. Homeowners in neighborhoods with more steady home values pay higher taxes.

The bottom line is that because of Measure 50, tax bills for homes of equal property values are paying vastly different taxes — sometimes by thousands of dollars. These inequities are often burdened on poorer neighborhoods where tax increases more closely mirror property values. For example, a neighborhood like Kings Heights where property values have been high for many years (and taxes rise fairly parallel in relation) are paying taxes with a ratio similar to homes in neighborhoods where property value has been consistently lower. These correlating property value and property tax increases appear reasonable, until you consider a neighborhood like Sherwood where property values have recently soared and taxes remain relatively low.

Find your neighborhood, find your MAV

The Oregonian also created a handy interactive map to see how property taxes are distributed throughout Portland. The map imagines that property taxes are redistributed based on market value and then shows if a property pays more or less taxes than it would if rates were based solely on current market value.

Simply enter an address into the search bar to find out that property’s tax info.

We used the Pittock Mansion for the example above, which obviously isn’t applicable, but you can see how the map works.

What’s on the horizon?

Oregonians are wary to change the tax structure. For one thing, 43 percent of taxpayers benefit from the current system, by no means an insignificant number of voters. Beyond that, those who are paying a higher share of taxes can be certain that taxes will rise at a slow and steady rate.

There is currently a resolution in the Oregon Senate that seeks to essentially return property tax calculation to the previous method of determining a home’s value via real market value. It would level out property taxes across the board, which means higher rates for some. Commercial properties and rural communities might end up with higher burdens as lawmakers try to even distribution through tailormade reform. You can learn more about the situation in this article.

Though many Oregon voters stick to the current system for, tax reform is always a possibility. It is definitely worth keeping an eye on as a homebuyer or seller. This resolution will be voted on in a 2017 session, you can track it here.

Portland tax climate

The Oregon tax structure as a whole creates both opportunities and problems for Oregonians. On the one hand, the lack of sales tax and excise tax creates a healthy climate for business growth. Oregon was ranked as the 12th best state to start a new business in a 2015 study by the Tax Foundation.

On the other hand, the tax situation in Oregon has created trouble for the state when it comes to funding vital social and state services such as education and law enforcement. Property taxes are used to pay for public schools, which have long been considered underfunded. In most states, income tax is used to pay for education, and this generally creates more stability as income tax fluctuates less than property tax.

These discrepancies in Oregon’s tax structure have led to studies that compare Oregon’s tax structure with those of nearby states to see how our system stacks up. This article by KUOW News in Seattle compares Washington (no income tax, high sales tax), Idaho (sales tax and income tax) to Oregon. It’s an interesting read, showing that while Oregon’s method of foregoing sales tax means we collect more tax dollars, our system has a lot less stability overall. In Oregon, if you’re not working, you’re not in the tax system.

Oregonians refused to institute a sales tax even after the Recession left the state near bankruptcy, proof that we are slow and careful to alter our tax climate. It’s an attitude to consider when you’re researching the future of property taxes for any near or long term real estate investments.

As always, if you have questions or feedback, let us know!

Resources:

Lawmakers Seek to Unwind Parts of 1990s Property Tax Revolt

Tax Breaks for Gentrifiers: how a 1990s tax revolt has skewed the burden for tax payers

Video: A brief history of Oregon’s property tax system

Map: Measure 50 Winners and Losers

How Oregon’s taxes stack up (2015)

Tax Foundation

Washington and Oregon Have a Tax Off. Who Wins?

 

Whether you’re in the market to buy or sell a home, chances are you’re using Zillow as one of the tools in your arsenal. One of the portal’s most well known and utilized tools is the Zestimate, which allows users to see the Zillow estimated market value of a home. Though we agree that this is a useful tool, a recent lawsuit regarding its accuracy is a reminder that a Zestimate should not take the place of a Realtor’s market analysis or an analysis by a certified appraiser.

Good Morning America fleshes out out the story below.

The Zestimate tool has a fault factor of roughly five percent according to the report. That means that one in 20 homes is estimated at up 20 percent less than they are actually worth when using the tool. The homeowner in the story is suing Zillow for estimating her home’s value at $64,000 below its actual worth, stating that the tool lumped her home in with other homes that have no bearing on her home’s value.

Maximize your Zestimate.

Though a Zestimate does have an error factor, making sure your ZIllow home profile is completely and accurately filled out will ensure that you have a more precise price estimate.

  1. Claim your home. Create a Zillow account, search your address and claim your home. From there you can flesh out all of the details of your home, from square footage to a written description. This gives them more than a zip code and nearby sales for their calculus. 
  2. Update all of your home’s amenities. If one of your home’s amenities has bonus features, (ex: a finished, plumbed basement) be sure to include that in each amenities description.
  3. Write a shiny description of your home that is tailored to what you believe most potential buyers are looking for.
    1. Include any details about your neighborhood that might be desirable to a potential buyer, such as proximity to transit, schools, parks etc. Feel free to get creative, but don’t exaggerate any details.

Don’t forget to talk with your realtor.

Zillow has stated that a Zestimate should be viewed as a starting point, not an appraisal. As Shark Tank investor Barbara Corcoran states in the video, the best way to get an accurate value for a home is to “talk to a real estate agent who really knows what they’re doing.”

If you have any questions on home values or any of the tools we as Brokers use to get a glimpse of the market, we’re happy to help.

Resources:

Zillow Faces Lawsuit over ‘Zestimate’ tool that calculates a house’s worth

Zillow: Claim Your Home

Along with the rest of the country, crime in the Portland metro area has been rapidly declining for the last few decades. With a population of over 600,000 within the city proper, Portland has its share of issues, but is still safer than most similarly sized cities. Several of Oregon’s safest cities, such as Lake Oswego and Beaverton, are also located very close to Portland.

It can be a bit of a rabbit hole researching crime for any city, and broad changes occur over multiple years rather than from year to year, but it is still helpful to have some context and a couple of resources to turn to when you’re considering moving into a new neighborhood.

Mapping crime in your neighborhood

Portland Maps is a useful tool if you want to check recent crime activity for a specific address. Put in an address (the example below shows the Hasson 23rd office) and click the ‘Public Safety’ drop down to see an overview of all reported person, property and society crimes reported within the quarter mile area containing that address in the last year.

Crime data for Portland Maps is only kept for addresses within Portland city limits, but you can still see general information about other addresses, such as police and fire jurisdictions.

Mapping historical crime trends

The article Crime in Context, by the nonprofit organization, The Marshall Project, offers an in depth analysis of crime trends in the United States spanning several decades. The article features an interactive map that allows you to tinker with a map showing various trends in crime between changeable points in time. The graph below shows that the rate of violent crime in Portland is down 79 percent from the years 1988 and 2014.

The Marshall Project notes a lot of interesting (and relieving) facts about national crime trends in general. For example, in regards to the common fear that crime is on the rise across the US, the above article states:

“A recent study posited that 5 percent of city blocks account for 50 percent of [that city’s] crime. That is why most Americans believe crime is worse, while significantly fewer believe it is worse where they live.”   

Examining the systems of articles ranking the ‘safest cities’

While you’re browsing the myriad of articles ranking the so called safest and most dangerous cities in Oregon, keep in mind that each study generally utilizes different data sets and metrics to obtain results. For example, This article by The Oregonian compares two studies ranking the safest cities in Oregon, both of which used different systems to obtain their results. Check out the metrics for different studies below.

CreditDonkey: study used FBI data from 2014 on violent crimes. Figures were calculated as crimes per 1,000 residents.

BackgroundChecks: Also used FBI data from 2014. Included internal research and an analysis of social media and language. Figures calculated as rates normalized per 100,000 residents.

The first study understandably came up with more small towns in the final list (#1 Condon; population 700), while the second study posted many larger cities (#1 West Linn; population 25,992).

Ask your friendly Drew Coleman Team neighbor!

We all live in different areas of Portland and most of the team is comprised of Pacific Northwest natives. Our work also takes us all across the region and we get to know all of our clients and the neighborhoods they live in. If you have any questions about the feel of an area you’re considering, or about this article, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, we always love to chat about Stumptown.

Radon exists everywhere, but we have a higher incidence here in Portland.* The colorless, odorless gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. It is generally harmless outdoors as it is widely dispersed, but it can accumulate in the closed spaces of buildings (especially basements) over time.

In light of this, it’s a good idea to have any home you’re looking at purchasing (as well as your current home) tested for this invisible, dangerous gas.

Via: Oregon Live

Test for radon in 3 steps

Testing for radon is a relatively inexpensive and simple process. It’s also commonplace within the real estate transaction; we recommend testing for virtually every property. While there are many radon testing companies, we trust and recommend the good people at Precision Radon Measurement to all of our clients. Give them a call to schedule an appointment and they’ll take care of the rest. The process takes a couple of days and you’ll get on-site results.

What if my home has high radon levels?

If your home has levels of radon accumulation over 4.0 pCi/L (picoCuries per liter), you’ll need to have a mitigation system installed. That basically means that there are about 9 atoms of radon decaying in one liter of air per minute. The layout of your home and the cause of accumulation (cracks in the foundation, gaps in construction joints, etc.) will determine the exact structure of the mitigation system. Contact a radon specialist such as Ecotech to set up a consultation. A specialist will consider the aesthetics of your home and create a system that will get rid of radon without being intrusive.

We can’t tell you exactly what an individual home’s mitigation system will look like, but there is a general recipe for removing radon.

Ecotech does a good job of making sure the mitigation system blends with the design of your house. They will also ensure that the system runs at maximum efficiency to keep energy costs low.

Radon facts and resources

Radon should be taken seriously, but it is a relatively inexpensive and easy threat to eliminate. Take a look below for some radon facts and links to resources.

 

New Data Shows Some Areas in Oregon Are At High Risk Of Elevated Radon Levels

Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction – Environmental Protection Agency

Radon Levels in Portland Area by Zipcode (a long-term study done at PSU)

 

Radon testing & mitigation services

Radon testing: Precision Radon Measurement

Radon mitigation system installation: Ecotech

 

* If you’re really curious about the how and why behind higher radon levels in the Portland area, feel free to dig into how the Missoula Floods shaped the Willamette Valley and left behind granite-infused sediment that is relatively high in uranium. Radon is a byproduct created by the breakdown of uranium. There’s your science lesson for today.


Curious about other aspects of Real Estate 101? CLICK HERE to get “eDREWcated”.

The listing agent accepted your offer? Congrats on finding your new home! Now it’s time to get to know the house inside and out. Conducting a home inspection is a vital step in the process of purchasing a new home. Catching any major issues with a home before you purchase it is an essential consumer protection service.

We’ll walk you through the inspection timeline, the inspection itself, what to expect from a good home inspection company, and some tips for getting the most out of this crucial component of your home purchase. 

When does the home inspection take place?

  1. The seller (via his or her listing agent) accepts your offer, including an inspection contingency, and you both sign a purchase agreement.
  2. The house goes into escrow and you have a set number of days to conduct the inspection. Ten days is typical (there are times when it might be appropriate to shorten the period and increase the attractiveness of their offer).
  3. The home inspection occurs. We’ll go through everything the inspection covers below.
  4. Per the results of the inspection, a repair addendum is submitted to the listing agent. The buyer and seller will negotiate and come to an agreement concerning which issues the seller will remedy before the sale.
  5. Once repairs are negotiated and agreed upon, steps will be taken to fix any issues and the sale of the home will move forward.
  6. If there are significant issues with the home, you can opt to have a reinspect done before the final closing date. This is something you can discuss with your home inspector.

If there are major problems with the home, you will generally have the ability to back out of the deal at this point. This is why we recommend a home inspection contingency with your purchase agreement, so that you have an exit strategy.

Knowing the timeline is an effective way to reduce the stress of this big and complicated transaction. Breath easy, and if you have questions let us know.

What does the inspector consider?

A good home inspection digs into every nook and cranny of your prospective home, and will typically take 3-4 hours to complete. Be wary of inspectors offering expedited services; a thorough inspection takes time. Attend the inspection, as it is an invaluable clinic, given by an expert, for the operation and maintenance of the home.

The following is a general checklist of elements and systems inspected, but items are contingent on individual homes.

An inspection will include a full written and verbal report on the house upon completion. The inspector will go over any issues with the home, and describe any routine maintenance required for the upkeep of the home and its systems. This is also your chance to ask any questions you might have. We recommend that you don’t hold back, have fun getting to know your castle and take advantage of the inspector’s knowledge.

What to expect from your home inspector

Selecting a quality home inspection company is the key to getting the most out of this service. Shop around and interview a few companies. Keep the following factors in mind when making your decision and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions:

How many years has their company been in business? How many inspections have you completed? What does your inspection cover? What’s your pricing scale? How long will the inspection take? Will I be able to attend the inspection?

We recommend that you research several home inspection companies before making a decision, but we’ve been working with PDX Inspect for more than a decade and fully endorse their long track record of fine work. Give them a call and ask away. You can also get a feel for pricing, look at mold information, read testimonials or look at FAQs on their website.  

Tips for a successful home inspection

There is clearly a lot to consider when it’s time for a home inspection. You could spend days scouring the internet for preparation advice (and probably still will – we certainly did), but we thought it might be helpful to leave you with a few final pieces of advice.

There are a few things a seller will be required by the state to fix, such as smoke alarm placement, but for the most part, the buyer and seller will negotiate repairs. After the inspection, you will submit a repair addendum which the seller can counter. You can ask the seller to fix any or all issues or discuss a price alteration.

I was driving to work with a brand new, never been used leak proof coffee thermos, filled to the brim with piping hot caffeine elixir. Little did I know the lid was defective, an errant seal causing the contents of the mug to be swiftly deposited onto me in traffic. Of course I was wearing a white shirt.

Homes are complex, and new homes can (and generally do) have defects too, so it’s always best to catch them before they end up costing you much more than a new oxford button down.

One of the most important and valuable aspects of your inspection lies in fully utilizing the knowledge of your home inspector. Ask as many questions as possible to really get to know your house. Which repairs should I prioritize (what would you fix first if this were your home)? Who should I contact to repair what? Can you show me how the natural gas lines work(or any other system in the home)? Fully utilizing the knowledge of the inspector is a huge stress and time saver, and they will enjoy helping you get acquainted with your home.

When you’re interviewing inspectors, ask if they provide photos of each item they refer to in the final report. There will be a lot to take in on inspection day and having a quick visual reference to jog your memory can be really handy. For an example, you can take a look at the sample report from PDX Inspect.

When you talk to your prospective home inspector about what they inspect, keep in mind that some parts of the home might not be covered. Though inspection companies vary, most inspections cover what the inspector can see with the naked eye. The home’s roof, HVAC systems, pests that might be in the walls, landscaping and plumbing could all be outside the scope of a home inspection and require a specialist.

When you obtain a sample report prior to hiring, take a look at what’s covered and ask the inspection company what they do and don’t inspect.

Good luck on your home inspection! If you have any questions or feedback don’t hesitate to contact us. If you’re selling your home and would like some tips on preparing for an incoming inspection, take a look at our Home Inspections for Sellers post.

 

Drew Coleman Realtor Website

 

Like any diligent parent, you’ll be researching school districts before you move to a new city. Be prepared to read some criticism of Portland Public School system. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of great and innovative school districts in Portland. Neighborhoods like Beaverton, Lake Oswego and West Linn are thriving. It’s inevitable, however, that you’ll come across some controversy in your research. This article provides context, resources and information on local schools. Think of it as a launching point to aid your search for the perfect school district.

Resources for researching schools in the Portland metro area

If you’re looking for pure school rankings in an easy to navigate format, PDX Monthly’s Top Schools list. You can compare public and private K-12 schools in Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington and Clark (WA) counties. It’s a useful snapshot and the data was collected from the Oregon Department of Education and Washington State Board of Education.  The data is from 2015 but this is the most recent list as of right now.

For more in depth research, take a look at Scoop on Schools. This blog was created by a couple of Portland moms as a comprehensive guide to selecting a school for new Portland parents. There is a lot of info and community collaboration available on the site. The creators stopped blogging in 2012, but the info is still useful and specific to the Portland community.

There are plenty of private school open houses and tours you can take advantage of if you’d like to visit a school you’re interested in. PDX Parent offers a regularly updated list of open house dates and tours.

One last helpful tool is Portland Maps. Enter in your prospective address and you can view all kinds of zoning information including utility companies, nearby parks and, of course, the school district that home falls under.

Advanced and special needs programs

Oregon schools offer many fantastic programs to make sure your child is receiving the attention he or she needs.

There are many more programs to explore. Check out the main pages of both the ODE and PPS sites to get a good overview of what kinds of programs are available in Portland and its surrounding communities.

What key factors are  Affecting The Portland Public School System?

If you’re looking within the PPS district, you’ll run across some controversy, and a good deal of passion from local parents. It’s a complicated issue, but there are a couple of larger catalysts affecting the situation.

What’s Next for Portland Education

The energy from the community has been helpful in creating resources for incoming families, such as the Scoop On Schools guide. It also helps to spur the school district forward as it implements changes to improve Portland schools.

The Oregonian article above explains some of the ways PPS is responding to its ailments. In August of 2016 Bob McKean, a veteran school administrator, was  assigned as temporary superintendent and immediately started addressing problems. He has simplified the structure of the administration system and is working to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy.

Oregonians, who are known for being tax weary (no sales tax!), have been passing large bonds in Portland recently for school funding. One for $443 million in North Clackamas and another for $291 million in Tigard-Tualatin. There is another bond on the May ballot for $750 million in the PPS districts. These funds will be used to address issues ranging from overcrowding to school modernization.

Check the ‘resources’ section of this post for related articles concerning the efforts of Portlanders working to address school systems.

Cultivating success through relationships

Progress in Portland schools isn’t just in funding and department shake-ups. If you’re feeling a little disheartened by some of friction in PPS, look no farther than Oregon City High School. The 2,300 student school recorded 2,033 ‘F’s on report cards in 2014.

Using this stat as fuel for change, the school instituted a program focusing on building caring personal relationships with students. Leaning heavily into this philosophy with everything from hiring practices to having discrete mental health services available to students has produced a class of 2016 that left only 24 students still working to get a diploma.

Read the full article here.

Don’t forget about summer camp

Portland has some fantastic and unique extracurricular opportunities to supplement the traditional school year. One such organization is Trackers Portland. They offer great outdoor programs, with themes ranging from archery to blacksmithing, both during the summer and in year-long weekend formats.

Via: Trackers Portland

For this author personally, when I moved away from my hometown at the age of 12, I retreated into a pre-teen fit of mopiness and self pity strong enough to make Eeyore blush. Sorry mom and dad. If my parents had told me I could attend a “Stealth, Archery and Wilderness Survival” or “Ranger’s Survival: Trackers Craft” camp, I would’ve been first in the U-Haul.

PDX Parent offers a guide to summer programs in the area that can be searched by age or activity if you’d like to shop around.

We hope you found some information helpful to you as you navigate the important question of finding a school in the Portland area. If you have questions or feedback, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Resources

Long a mess, Portland Public Schools starts to fix confusion at the top

Scoop on Schools

Trackers Portland

PPS Considers Big Ask For Voters: $750 Million

Ranking Portland’s Best Schools

PDX Parent – School Open Houses

PDX Parent – Summer Camp Guide

Portland Maps – zoning information

Oregon Department of Education

Portland Public Schools

 

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