Archive for the ‘Politics in Real Estate’ Category

High Density Urban Building Practices, Encouraged by Local Governments, Not So Popular

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

This one was posted up back in January by citing a CFM Strategic Communications survey conducted in Portland back in December that shows Portlander’s aren’t real fond of the local governments push for high density construction (essentially, focusing on condos, townhomes and apartments rather than single family residential homes).

A whopping 46% of respondents, which were the overwhelming majority in this section, felt focusing on condos and apartments instead of single family residences (detached residential homes) was the wrong direction for government with the same percent of respondents not agreeing that these high density projects save local governments money in infrastructure costs.

Hmmm…I’m not a huge fan of high density building either, I mean, if that’s your thing and you enjoy close quarters living, be my guest, it’s just not my cup of tea; but to say it doesn’t save money on infrastructure? Seems to me it would? Would it not?


USDA Areas Zero Down Home Loans to Remain Secure Through 2020

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Recently a farm bill was passed that significantly and positively impacts rural areas; some of which aren’t so rural, in many ways, zero down loans being one of them.

Areas like Sandy, Estacada and Newberg qualify for what are called USDA loans (yes, that’s the US Department of Agriculture) that offer very competitive rates and to many, more importantly, 0% down to buy a home in these areas.

When I was working a large development in Estacada (and another smaller one in Sandy) these USDA loans were making up a large number of buyers home loans in those developments, new home, “in town” (well, Estacada and Sandy anyway), and nothing down. You could even still have the seller cover some closing costs and end up paying very close to nothing to get into a home.


National Real Estate Number Tracking Vs. Local

Friday, February 21st, 2014

In skimming through some articles in the real estate world today I came across one from the AP syndicated through titled “Portland home prices dip on slower December sales“, so of course being my market I need to check it out.

I didn’t find the slow December sales portion interesting as that’s par for the course this time of year (and apparently the Corelogic data used for the article, doesn’t take seasonal market shifts into consideration anyway), but I did find the numbers provided to be off…The AP / Corelogic data showed December home prices being up 15% from last year, where as RMLS, in their Market Action Report for December, showed 12.9% and the drop AP cites from November to December was 0.2%, but RMLS shows -3% average sale price compared to November and -1% median.

So who’s right?

Now, the numbers are still very similar, but it shows the differences you can end up with depending on how you are looking at a given market.  They just said the “Portland area”…Do they mean city of Portland only? Entire Metro? Do they, on a national level, consider Salem to be a part of that market? Are they looking at residential only as the RMLS Market Action Reports do, or are they looking at everything, residential, commercial etc?


Tax Forgiveness Act; Still Expired…Not Seeing Any Renewal News; Yet…

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Just a quick heads up [that honestly I should have done weeks ago], for anyone looking to short sale their home or are facing a foreclosure. For those not familiar with this act, or maybe not familiar with the need for this act, here’s how it works.

You short sale your home or get foreclosed on. The bank gets say $275,000 for your home (when you sell it on a short sale, or when they resell it as a foreclosure later), but you owed $375,000 on it, leaving a loss to the bank of $100,000.

Now, I know there are many people out there that think that $100,000 would be entirely the banks problem, and while that particular $100k is their problem, you as the seller have a not so new problem that just returned on December 31st due to this 2007 act not being renewed (yet?).


Target Security Breach and How it Could Affect Lending Soon

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the last few months you’ve heard of the Target security breach that’s effected a whopping 1 in 5 people. Well an interesting question has been raised recently and that is how this breach will affect lending and the housing market in general when loan approvals start becoming loan denials due to some guy buying a new $3,000 4K flat screen on your card as a result of that breach.

The National Real Estate Post put up a video on this topic yesterday that I’d recommend taking a look at:

Your Realtor, Scott McDonald
Everything. Portland. Real Estate. Blog.

Politically Correct Real Estate; It’s Very Real

Friday, January 31st, 2014

I’ve come across this article a few times in the past few days, and I suppose now I’ve seen enough references to it that I should get it up here.

We live in what many would consider to be an overly politically correct society and it’s becoming more so every day. It was many years ago when I heard another Realtor (a relative) tell me about the whole “master bedroom” thing. I hadn’t heard too much about it since, but have myself been very aware of how I word things when speaking with someone or writing here on the blog or in email.

Seems that’s par for the course as real estate ad’s around the country are becoming increasingly politically correct as well.

To many peoples surprise however, the “safe neighborhood” referenced in this article is actually very strictly against licensing regulations here in Oregon and many other states. As a Realtor I cannot (and will not; no one transaction is worth risking my license) tell a client “this is a safe neighborhood” (or “not” a safe neighborhood) as Realtors can fairly easily destroy an areas property values if we went around telling people what areas are safe, not safe etc. In this instance it’s not just political correctness, it’s the potential for very real financial damages to entire neighborhoods.


New to the area? A Realtor may not be your best source for some information

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

I’ve had this happen, believe it or not, more times than I can count…Pick up a client from the airport or hotel and after initial greetings I get “the question”. I’ve heard it in many different forms, but in the interest of being politically correct and avoiding a potential license violation, I’ll sum it up with:

“Since I’m not familiar with this area could you please tell me what are good areas and bad areas?”


Did I mention I’ve heard this question way worse on many occasions (racially motivated, religious etc)? I mean really bad…almost, “I’m kicking you out of my car” bad.


Yes on 79 a Success!

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Just a quick note here to say thank you to Oregonians for passing measure 79 to ensure our politicians can never enact a sales/transfer tax on real estate without a vote from the people that would have to pay it!

Thank you Oregonians!

~Scott McDonald

Yes on 79 campaign outs another ad; Keep Oregon sales tax free especially on real estate!

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Here’s the newest ad for measure 79 which would amend Oregon’s constitution to essentially ban legislators around the state from ever imposing a sales tax or transfer tax on the sale of real estate without a vote by the people that would have to pay it (you!).

Getting into politics in my business is always a bad idea, so I always keep those cards close to the chest so to speak, but with this measure I’m all for the yes vote; hence I support the yes on 79 campaign by posting their ad’s here.

I will say however that I’m not for this strictly because it involves my business of real estate, but rather I have never liked the idea of politicians being able to create/raise taxes on their constituents without their constituents consent via a majority vote. If you’re the one that’s going to be forced to pay it, you should at the very least have a chance to vote on it.

~Scott McDonald

Another Yes on 79 ad goes out, check it out, and vote yes on 79!

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

As I had mentioned in a previous post on measure 79 I am not aware of any current attempt to enact a property sales tax or “transfer tax” as it’s often called (to avoid calling it a sales tax here in sales tax free Oregon). However, knowing our politicians can and often do pass new taxes feeling there is no need to allow those that would pay it (their constituents, AKA, their boss’ – you and me) to vote on it, i’m all for making sure they can’t pass one like this without a ballot being involved. As such, my mark is going in the yes box on this one to create a solution in search of a problem.

With that said, here’s the latest Yes on 79 ad:


Here’s a good way to quickly put the breaks on the housing market recovery

Monday, October 15th, 2012

In a previous blog entry here on today I mentioned all it would take is a wrong “action” by the right person(s) to stall the current housing market recovery and that’s precisely what could happen next year with the MID (Mortgage Interest Deduction) as many in congress feel eliminating that or significantly reducing it will help make a dent in our massive national debt; but I simply ask, at what cost? Reversal of the currently delicate housing market recovery? Seriously?

I’m with NAR (National Association of Realtors) on this one, the MID is indeed vital especially in this housing market and even during the recovery. We need to keep home ownership incentives intact while on the path to recovery, not remove them or reduce them. If such incentives were reduced or eliminated that would almost certainly put the breaks on this recovery and that’s just bad for everyone.

~Scott McDonald


Medical marijuana and public housing programs in Portland, uh, err…Maine.

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Ok Ok, this is a Portland Maine article from the Portland Press Herald, but knowing Portland OREGON of course also has housing assistance programs and medical marijuna, I just wonder how long it will be until these types of issues arise here (unless they already have that I’m not aware of)?

Interesting read none the less. Apparently a gentleman in Maine is potentially going to be evicted from his section 8 housing due to his cultivation and use of medical marijuana and he’s currently working on convincing just one of the board of commissioners to reverse the 4-3 vote they cast to stick to their guns and not allow it. It’s already federal policy to deny public housing assistance applicants for medical marijuana use, however with it now being legal in something like 17 states, in spite of the wishes of our federal government, it seems more of these types of cases are bound to occur even right here in Portland, Oregon.

~Scott McDonald

If you’re home is on the market, you may want to remove those political signs

Monday, October 15th, 2012

As I was perusing real estate and housing market related articles this evening while doing some blog posts I came across this article from and realized, they’re right! If you’re currently selling your home and have political signs on your lawn you may want to remove them until your home sells.

Yes, it would be very petty for someone to say “oh they’re voting for so and so, I don’t even want to look at their home!”…but, we’ve all met petty people right?

Just a quick note that I’ll throw into the tips category.


Appraisal issues still causing problems and terminating sales, a rant and a story

Friday, October 12th, 2012

It’s been happening for a few years now; appraisals killing real estate transactions as a result of new regulations put in place in an attempt to put a band-aid on the financial crisis’. Unfortunately, it’s still a reality and Realtors nationally are still seeing the problem as the Huntington News reports. 

Here’s just one of many scenarios. You’re looking for a home and find the perfect one that’s a little more than others similar to it, but the features of this home outshine all the others. There are two other buyers interested and a bidding war begins. You win the bidding war and enter into escrow, do the inspection ($400) and with your approval of the condition or an agreed upon repair addendum your lender orders the appraisal (another $400). The appraisal comes in $20,000 under the sale price and you can’t come up with the difference and the seller won’t budge either. POOF, after spending $800 (or more) on inspection(s) and appraisal, you lose the home…And why? Because an appraiser, often coming from a completely different area that doesn’t know the local market at all, just didn’t see the value that you and the other two buyers saw in the home. Or, maybe the appraiser compared the non-distressed home in perfect condition that you were buying trying to buy, to some short sales and foreclosures that were pretty beat up…Regardless, that appraisers report just terminated the transaction.

Sometimes we can find obvious problems in the appraisal and/or with the comparables the appraiser used and get the appraisal updated resulting in a higher value which solves the problem. Often however, even if it’s just absurdly obvious that the appraisal is riddled with problems the appraiser just refuses to change a thing; it’s a lot like roulette.


Measure 79, Prohibiting any Oregon Government from enacting a sales / transfer tax on real estate

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Measure 79 will be on the upcoming ballot and while I agree, as I’m sure most Realtors would, being that the Oregon Association of Realtors is leading the charge on this, that a transfer / sales tax on real estate would not be a good thing, I can’t help to find some merit with articles like this one from the Herald & News (which actually supports measure 79) stating measure 79 seems like a “a solution in search of a problem”.  Here’s the latest ad for Measure 79 from

I’m not aware of any current move to try to initiate a sales / transfer tax on real estate in Oregon as this ad suggests is happening? Such a tax does however currently exist;  in Washington County. That one was initially intended for transportation and, like so many other taxes created to resolve a specific problem, has since moved to the general fund.  Many claim this tax was responsible for the growth in Washington County since it’s inception in 1972; that it was a first step towards that growth and hey, in 1972 I wasn’t even a glimmer in my mothers eye yet, let alone in Oregon yet, so it’s impossible for me to know from any experience if that idea has any merit; though i do doubt it.