The Case of the Rapidly Increasing Oregon Population

WHY SO MANY PEOPLE ARE MOVING TO OREGON AND WHAT I THINK ABOUT IT

"Nancy Drew and the Jewel Stealing Sasquatch That Moved to Oregon"

"Nancy Drew and the Jewel Stealing Sasquatch That Moved to Oregon"

If this were The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew (I devoured those books as a kid) then I would start this case by hunting for clues. There would inevitably be some type of jewels, paintings, or other objects involved and I would almost certainly get to travel to interesting locations. At some point I would get to ride in a spectacular car, motorcycle, boat, plane, or other oddball method of transport like a Sasquatch or something. In the end, my master sleuthing would uncover the mystery, plus some unexpected twist no one was expecting (or maybe I’m thinking of Scooby Doo).

Figuring out why Oregon is one of the top moving destinations in the United States takes a super sleuth. Some reasons are obvious. People from more expensive areas, like much of California, enjoy moving to Portland because they have a lot more buying power. Their jobs also tend to transfer well to our market. Many companies are opening PDX satellite offices and have found that their employees are jumping at the chance to move up here (I’m looking at you, Google). 

There is no denying that you can afford more house in Portland than you can in the heavily populated areas of California. The median home price in San Francisco is north of 1.3M. I’ve seen headhunter after headhunter try to recruit many of my engineer friends to move down there (unsuccessfully). The running “joke” is that a down payment in Silicon Valley could buy you an entire house in most of the rest of the United States.

This is California. If it were Oregon these people would be wearing Smartwool long johns, Pendleton sweaters, Columbia jackets, and Patagonia puffer coats. And they'd still be huddled a lot closer together for warmth.

This is California. If it were Oregon these people would be wearing Smartwool long johns, Pendleton sweaters, Columbia jackets, and Patagonia puffer coats. And they'd still be huddled a lot closer together for warmth.

But, as much as Oregonians love to blame all problems (especially traffic) on Californians and people living in Vancouver, there is a deeper story here.

California’s net gain/loss is actually pretty close to zero (about the same amount of people move in as move out). Oregon, on the other hand, stands at about a 67% gain vs 33% loss rate. It seems that word has traveled far and wide. People from Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, West Virginia, and others are all finding their way to the Pacific Northwest (Seattle is getting them, too).

However, one of the biggest sources of transplants is New York and other northeast states. New York itself is one of the most moved from states at a 63% loss vs 37% gain rate. It’s easy to see why this would happen. All the reasons Californians love to move here make sense for New Yorkers. And unlike Southern Californians, East Coasters aren’t trading year-round mild weather for the privilege of growing webbing between their toes.

Pro tip(s) for migrators: Only wimps carry umbrellas in Oregon. Never buy a piece of outerwear without a hoodie. Beards are not optional.

Pro tip(s) for migrators: Only wimps carry umbrellas in Oregon. Never buy a piece of outerwear without a hoodie. Beards are not optional.

Although, they’ll still have to grow webbing between their toes.

They’re also going to have to deal with an ongoing housing crisis. But that’s another story.

Even though the majority of people move to Oregon for a job (52.75%), there are other reasons. The next most cited response is retirement (19.90%) and people over the age of 65 are actually the largest age group moving to Oregon (24.35%). Although it’s fairly even across the board.

Oregon doesn’t seem like the most likely place to retire but when you factor in Bend, Sisters, Ashland, and the entirety of the coast, it does make sense. Not to mention the fact that we have some kickin’ retirement communities around the Portland metro area.

Family and Lifestyle round out the other major reasons people move to Oregon. Family will always be a good reason to move but not every state offers quite the same lifestyle as Oregon. Whether you want to start a tech company, keep it weird, or follow your outdoor adventure dreams, we’ve got it all.

Weather wasn’t a survey option but I’m sure if it had been, that would have been the top response, right? Or the prevalence of bicycle lanes. That would have been way up there.

This isn't a bicycle race. It's just Portlanders on their normal morning commute.

This isn't a bicycle race. It's just Portlanders on their normal morning commute.

So, we have a pretty good idea now of why so many people are moving here. The next question would be: Is this a good thing?

I would have to say, “YES!” Many of the people moving here are accepting jobs that sorely need to be filled. Because companies are beginning to realize that Oregon is more than just the end destination of their favorite 80’s computer game, the job market is booming. We’ve been setting records for job growth and we need talent, stat.

Of course, we also need available housing, stat. But, that’s still another story.

Full disclosure: I am not a native Oregonian. I moved here in 2001 from my home state of Georgia. I have an enormous soft spot for anyone from the eastern seaboard because I worked sales for years to New York and the surrounding states. For some reason, my straight-forward, analytical, "get ‘er done" personality jives well with New Yorkers. I sometimes miss traveling back there and being able to visit 6 states in a day (although I don’t miss the tolls).

So if you’re looking to transplant yourself to the Portland area, look me up. We’ll see all kinds of interesting locations, maybe weather a few twists, and eventually uncover a jewel of a home. But no Sasquatches. I promise.

- Brandi Whitaker

Property Investment and You

As a property investor,

I’m frequently asked for advice about buying rental properties and how to achieve that goal. There are many factors as to how to make this happen, but I’ll focus on the first time buyer that wants to buy a home and then buy another house or duplex as an investment.

To achieve this there are a few ways to go about it. One way is to let the first purchase appreciate through either time or sweat equity and then refinance to pull cash out or take out a home equity loan in order to have funds for the the down payment. This is a very common direction to go and works quite effectively. In fact, this is how I bought my first rental 20 years ago.

Would I do it again?

I would, but I now have an alternative suggestion to buying investment properties and that is to start with the investment as opposed to purchasing a single family home and parlaying it into an investment property. A duplex is the perfect start as you can live in one side and rent out the other. If the right property is identified you may even be cash flow positive from the start, allowing you to grow your cash reserves for a downpayment on the next investment.

I’ve advised multiple clients to follow this path and they have all been grateful of this direction. In one transaction a young couple purchased a nice duplex in need of some cosmetic touches. After spending nearly a year working on their property they decided they didn’t like living in a duplex so after the home improvements they refinanced to pull some cash out and purchased a single family home and kept their duplex as an investment property. I honestly feel they would have never purchased the duplex if they started with a single family home and now they have the potential of 3 rental units.

In another case, I sold my client a duplex, after looking at many single family homes and, instead of parlaying the duplex into another property, he has decided to stay with one investment property and one side of the duplex nearly pays his entire mortgage payment.

So my advice today:

Start with the investment property and when the time is right move into the house of your dreams. 

-Byron Twyman

Success with Elevate!

The Elevate Real Estate Program can transform your life and bank account. With my customized platform, I’ll show you how to use real estate to make smart financial decisions that will pay off and elevate your lifestyle for years to come. My mission is to help clients achieve financial freedom from their real estate investments while providing outstanding customer service throughout the process.

If you look at economists’ charts on real estate investments you’ll find that, when considering real estate as a long term investment, you can earn investment income for yourself to help prepare for other areas of your life such as retirement.

About 10 years ago Rebecca Ostrom reached out and was interested in learning more about the Elevate Real Estate Program to earn money for retirement. When we met initially we discussed her options and what she was comfortable with. Together we came up with a game plan to purchase a property that she could use to generate revenue. As her trusted real estate adviser I was by her side every step of the way and I’m beyond pleased with her outcome.

Opportunities for growth can often be the positive outcome of unanticipated changes in life. With equity in hand from the sale of a jointly owned property I purchased a home with long term residency in mind. After a few years and as the result of a robust housing market I began to reconsider my options. I discussed with Marika if it seemed feasible to purchase a condo as my primary residence and then retain my current home as a rental property. She encouraged me to explore and suggested I discuss financial strategy with a trusted lender. I did just that and went on to purchase the condo. I began to once again seek change and hoped I might benefit from the continuing boom in the housing market. I consulted with Marika and within a five-year period was able to profit from the sale of both properties and grow my assets with limited tax implication. This investment approach boosted my retirement savings and provided another resource in order to grow my nest egg further. I look forward to the next real estate adventure with Marika and the opportunity to once again benefit from her wisdom, encouragement, and stellar work ethic.”

- Rebecca Ostrom

The Elevate Program has shown a consistent success rate with my clients and it can help you too! Rebecca’s story is just one. Helping her secure a nest egg for the future was very rewarding for me. Knowing that there’s money set aside if something should come up is comforting. If you’re interested in learning how to navigate this system please call or email me today! I would love to discuss some options with you and see how we can get the ball rolling on your financial goals.

Untitled.png

Portland Zoning Changes

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW (AND PROBABLY A BIT MORE)

The joy of understanding zoning.

The joy of understanding zoning.

Depending on whether or not you've received snail mail concerning zoning changes, and depending on whether or not you read the fine print, your Portland home may undergo a change of zoning next year. This leads to a lot of questions and one very important piece of advice:

  1. Why is the zoning changing?
  2. When does the new zoning take effect and who does it impact?
  3. Where can I go for more information?
  4. Can I stop the change or change my current zoning?
  5. How does zoning work?
  6. What does this mean for home buyers and sellers?
  7. Most Important Advice Ever

1. Why is the zoning changing?
For the past ~8 years the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) has been working on a new Comprehensive Plan for the City of Portland. This is a long range (20 year) planning tool that sets the framework for physical development in the city. Most of the legislative work is done but there are always additional projects in the works that you can comment on and provide testimony for (such as Central City 2035).

2. When does the new zoning take effect and who does it impact?
Approximately 24,000 homes will be affected by the zoning changes (including yours truly!). These changes are going to be effective on January 1st, 2018. However, there is the possibility that it could go into effect later than this date depending on the state acknowledgement process.

3. Where can I go for more information?
To find out whether or not any particular home will undergo a zoning change, you can visit this website. To find out what your current zoning is, visit this website and enter your address. Feel free to contact me for help and any questions you might have.

4. Can I stop the change or change my current zoning?
There's no way that I know of to stop the zoning change if you are part of this particular update because it was adopted by the City Council in December of 2016. However, zoning changes all the time and there are a lot of factors to consider if you think your property should be zoned differently. 

While your current zoning may not allow for the development that you want, your property may be part of future zoning changes (comp plan). If so, you may be able to go through a quasi-judicial process to apply for a zoning change which will have a good chance of success. Otherwise, you can apply for a change of zoning but there is absolutely no guarantee of success. Either of these processes carries a high cost and should be carefully considered. Input from professionals is crucial.

5. How does zoning work? (high level overview)
Your base zone may be something like R2.5 or R5. R means residential and the number corresponds to the number of units that can exist per thousand square feet (2.5 = 1 unit per 2500 square feet). Except when it doesn't... don't ask. It can be more complicated than this based on other rules, such as location (for instance a corner lot may allow for more density) and overlay zones (such as design overlay zones that require certain design elements). Specific overlay zones, plan districts, and other regulations will all impact the development potential for your property.

Zoning is (unnecessarily?) complicated so don't expect to understand everything just from knowing what the code is for your zone. You can consult your realtor for help to better understand your situation.

This is a zone map of a little piece of Portland. You definitely do not need to understand what all this means.

This is a zone map of a little piece of Portland. You definitely do not need to understand what all this means.

6. What does this mean for home buyers and sellers?
For buyers and sellers, zone changes can certainly impact the highest and best use for your property. A change from R1 to R5, R10 to R20, etc. may mean that a property no longer has the development potential it once had. Or the property may be changing to allow for higher density development. For a seller, knowing and understanding the current and planned zoning is crucial.

For buyers, understanding the zoning of both the home that you are interested in, as well as all the neighbors, can make a huge difference in whether or not it makes sense to buy the property. For instance, the home you are wanting to buy might be zoned for lower density residential but the corner lot next to it may be zoned for higher density development. Even if that corner lot only has a single level house on it now, it could be developed into a 3-story complex in the future!

Most Important Advice Ever (well, maybe not ever but it's still good advice)
There's a lot more to selling and buying homes than listing on the MLS or placing an offer. Find a real estate agent with the knowledge, smarts, and time that will do the work for you to maximize your dollars! (Along those lines, feel free to contact me anytime.)

- Brandi Whitaker