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A Brief History of Transportation in Oregon

If you’re a nerdy, transportation history buff, then you’ll be pleased to know that Carl Abbott and Sam Lowry, Portland State University, have prepared a report on the history of Oregon’s transportation system from 1890 through 1974. Even if you’re not nerdy or a transportation history buff, Abbott and Lowry’s report is delightfully readable. Believe … Continue Reading

New Oregon Law Assists Water Rights Holders

Oregon recently passed a law making it easier for holders of water permits or rights to withdraw surface water. House Bill 2189en, signed into law by Governor Kitzhaber on April 11, 2011, exempts such water users from the need to obtain a state removal or fill permit when changing the location of where surface water is … Continue Reading

The Chicken Next Door

As the old saying goes, “A car in every garage and two chickens in every pot.” Except now, that should read, “. . . and two chickens in every backyard.” Over the past couple of years, many cities in Oregon have revised their municipal codes to allow hens, at least, in backyards under certain circumstances. … Continue Reading

2011 Housing Outlook

Opinions on the 2011 Housing market vary from extremely pessimistic to the optimistic. Here are some links to some outlooks by various industry watchers. An analysis of the UBS forecast can be found at the WSJ real estate blog. The National Homebuilders Association outlook is here via a local association  Ira Hovnanian from one of the nations largest home builders Hovnanian … Continue Reading

The Oregon Title Insurance Rating Organization (OTIRO) Adopts Revised Endorsements

In addition to approving new endorsements available in the state, the revisions also brought the OTIRO endorsement numbers in line with the corresponding Oregon Land Title Association (“OLTA”) and American Land Title Association (“ALTA”) endorsement numbers. For example, OTIRO End. No. 51 corresponds to OLTA End. No. 51 and is addressed in Section 10.051 of … Continue Reading

Could The Double Dip Be Here?

The song I’m Going Down, Down, Down by Bruce Springsteen kept repeating in my head as I reviewed this months Case Shiller report. And it appears that a double dip in real estate prices may be upon us. Eleven cities including Portland and Seattle posted new lows, retreating back from their 2006/2007 peaks. Digging a little further into … Continue Reading

2010 Housing Ends With A Thud

Annual housing starts fumbled again in 2010 to the second lowest levels since 1959, 2009 being the worst, with about 529,000 home built last year. And while building permit activity rose in December, it appears to have risen to beat some news laws going into effect on Jan 1, 2011 in California, New York, Florida and some other states.  … Continue Reading

Lowest Numbers Reported EVER

Well…this can’t be good- lowest U.S. new home sales numbers reported EVER. But, with the short month in February and weather hits, it just may be a statistical issue. Builders are picking up lots, while Buyers are still treading lightly.… Continue Reading

Labor Force Housing at an All Time Low

Pessimism about the housing market continues to play it self out. But here is an interesting take does a pretty good job of capturing in bullet points the issues that are continuing to hold a recovery in housing down. I believe there is some silver lining in the data. Housing has fallen so far that at some point it will … Continue Reading

Environmental Group Sues Clark County in Federal Court Over Stormwater Regulations

A coalition of the Rosemere Neighborhood Association, Columbia Riverkeepers and Northwest Environmental Defense center sued the three Clark County Board of Commissioners and County Administrator Bill Barron alleging that Clark County’s stormwater regulations violates the Clean Water Act. Rosemere recently received a two to one opinion in it’s favor in front of Washington’s Pollution Control Hearings Board which … Continue Reading

Can We Afford to be a Post-Carbon City?

Few would argue against the proposition that Americans love their cars, and those in the Portland metropolitan region are no exception. True, we’re more multi-modal than a lot of American cities, but many envision a future with substantially fewer cars on the road than we have today and, from that perspective we have a long way to … Continue Reading

Portland Area Home Prices Continue to Fall in 2011

The rain can’t stop falling soon enough for most Portland metro area residents, but neither can home prices. February 2011 was an especially difficult month for home prices in Portland as they fell over 10% from February 2010, and 1.8% from January 2011. On the positive side, closed sales in February 2011 were up from both February 2010 … Continue Reading

Is there a difference between a lease extension and renewal?

Most people, including judges and some real estate professionals, confuse lease extension with lease renewal. From a technical perspective, the parties have to sign a brand-new lease in order to renew a lease. A lease extension is extending the term, which implies on the terms and conditions of the existing lease. A lease can be extended by a brief instrument which recites the … Continue Reading

Bright Side of Housing Slump? Apartment Starts Tick Up

While the up-front costs and lending freeze (outside of Fannie Mae) make new apartment construction a long-term investment, there does seem to be some movement in that direction. The “ghost” inventory of rented single family homes and condos, still makes predictions but Seattle is the first example in this story on new projects breaking ground.… Continue Reading

Washington Legislators Propose Bill to Streamline Environmental Permitting

House Bill 1233 seeks to eliminate the Hydraulic Project Approval (“HPA”) process under RCW 77.55 as a superfluous law given all of the other environmental regulations such as critical area ordinances. And according to Sec 1(5) of the HB 1233, elimination of the HPA would save the state nearly four and a half million dollars … Continue Reading

Future Looks Bright For Housing, But Short Term Roadblocks May Exist

Millennial appear to be more optimistic about the long term prospects for housing. Trulia conducted a survey across the age spectrum and concluded that those between the ages of 18-34 (“Millennial”) were the most optimistic about a housing recovery. This should be welcome news looking for a housing recovery as this generation demographically speaking has a lot of … Continue Reading

Tips for a Revocable Trust

If you create a grantor revocable trust as part of your estate plan to avoid the publicity and expense of a probate proceeding, remember to sign (and acknowledge and record when appropriate) instruments conveying the real estate and personal property to the trustee even if you are also the settlor.… Continue Reading

New Home Sales Climb in December

December Nationwide New Home sales climb (read more here). Keep in mind the total numbers are still comparatively low, but at least the direction is up. I think this is consistent with the NW development activity and is carrying into January. Still a lot of debt to climb out of, but the Big National developers are … Continue Reading

January Case-Shiller Numbers Suggest A Double Dip in NW Housing Market

Just when it appears as if the Northwest weathered the storm and reached the bottom the Case-Shiller numbers come out suggesting that a double-dip in housing prices is about to happen. Portland and Seattle hit their lowest levels in November since the height of the market in 2006 and 2007. And it appears that home prices have … Continue Reading

Shoreline Management Act Update–Clark County and Its Cities

Clark County and the cities of Vancouver, Camas, Washougal, Ridgefield, LaCenter, Battle Ground and Yacolt are jointly working on an update to their respective, if they have one, Shoreline Master Programs (SMPs) as required by the Shoreline Management Act. Clark County first adopted it’s SMP in 1974 and it hasn’t been updated since that time. Vancouver more recently updated … Continue Reading

December Case Shiller Numbers Out

Home prices have reached new lows in Portland and Seattle. Nationally home prices are back to their first quarter of 2003 prices and approaching the lows of 2009. Only Washington DC and San Diego continue to show escalation in home prices, similar to last month. Again this seems to suggest that those markets where jobs are available is … Continue Reading