Biking in Portland

Biking in Portland is one of the things that sets our city apart from others. It is well known that Portland is very bike friendly and that a large number, in comparison to other cities, commute by bike. Now whether you are a driver or biker or whether you loathe or love biking, you can’t help but be aware of how well set up our city is for commuting by bike. I saw a blog post today from an out-of-towner that came to Portland and explored our city via bike. They were very pleased at how our city is set up to allow people to explore by bike and foot. And they even pointed out some things that I was unaware of or didn’t understand prior to writing this. First are the “bike boulevards” as seen in the picture below. Now don’t laugh at me but I really didn’t know what those were. I’ve seen the markings all around and in my own neighborhood but I wasn’t sure what they were. Come to find out that they are bike routes on low-traffic residential streets. Bike boulevards let bikes and cars share the road safely which is great for drivers who are nervous driving pasts bicyclists and for bicyclists who prefer the ease of neighborhood streets.

 

Portland's Bike Boulevards (picture by peopleforbikes.org)

Homeowners Beware, Foreclosure Scams Rise 60% This Year!

Mortgage foreclosure scams — which seek to dupe struggling home owners with offers to save them from financial troubles — have soared nearly 60 percent this year. Scammers are increasingly using federal programs, like refinance programs such as HARP and HAMP, to try to trick home owners, reports the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF), a nonprofit group that helps home owners avoid foreclosure.

Improving your Local Portland Business District

Neighborhoodnotes.com is a great site that combines business owners and neighbors to create local news for Portland.  I often check the site when I’m feeling the need to be inspired about the local happenings in our area.  Today I saw this article on, “How to Improve Your Neighborhood’s Business District.”  Likely you live near some business district as there are many in Portland.  And like you I get disturbed when I see a “going out of business” sign or empty storefronts.  My neighborhood of Kenton has done a great job over the past few years of revitalizing it’s business district.  The Kenton Business Association has worked hard to get the neighborhood involved and to reach out into the community to get the needed funds to do the updating that the storefronts and street needed. And speaking of Kenton, if you live nearby or even if you don’t, check out the Kenton Street Fair May 20th, 2012!

Say Goodbye to The Buyer’s Market in Portland!

In the blink of an eye we went from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market.  How did this happen and what does that even mean you say?  Well, it means that inventory has gone way down.  Wayyyy down.  So when there’s less to choose from, it gives seller’s the upper hand.  Prices are beginning to even out.  In North Portland we saw little to no depreciation in the month of March and February.  Average home prices aren’t dropping anymore at their previous radical rates.  A comparison of first quarter prices this year and last year shows average sales price declined less than one half percent!  And lastly, more buyer’s are finally buying, in fact, there were more closed sales in the first three months of 2012 than in any first quarter since 2007.

Portland Earth Day Cleanups!

Spring is finally here. And like many of you, I have spent much of my off time cleaning up the garden or cleaning out the house. What I’m left with is a big pile of stuff I don’t want and a big pile of sod in my yard that I don’t know what to do with! Thankfully there are 13 neighborhood cleanups scheduled throughout North Portland during the spring months. In past years I have volunteered at a few of these and they are really great. You can bring a truck load of stuff for a small fee (usually about $5)! If you’ve ever taken a load to the dump and paid by weight, you know how awesome only paying $5 is! Most of the events are around Earth Day which is April 22, 2012.

Wind Map

I found another cool map. Check it out!

Fierce Market in Portland for Home Buyers

This has been a very busy spring! My buyer clients are keeping me very busy and I’m grateful. But as I’m out there showing houses and writing offers, there is a theme beginning to emerge. Competition is fierce! With inventory being low and with the larger than normal (or the past few years) amount of buyers hitting the pavement, well, almost every offer I have written has been in a multiple offer situation. What I tell my buyers is this, if you like this house than likely someone else will as well.

Being a home buyer in Portland right now is not for the faint of heart.

Tulip Festival March 30-April 30, 2012

I love this time of year when my tulips start blooming but what’s even better is checking out the Tulip Festival at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm. It’s hands down one of the best photo opportunities around. This year they have 40 acres of tulips and daffodils. On top of that they have daily events for adults and children, a cafe, a gift shop and you can buy cut flowers or order bulbs for fall planting! Go and check it out this year, it really is a site worth seeing. Go to their site for information.

Fannie and Freddie Continue to Refuse to do Loan Mods

The taxpayer always seems to be the loser

An interesting story was published last week by NPR and ProPublica regarding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As many people know, a handful of banks agreed to carry out mortgage principle reductions for those who owe more than their homes are worth. Yet Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have refused to do the same citing that it is not in the companies’ best interests to do so. Keep in mind that it was taxpayers who bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a whopping $150 billion! The most recent analyses that were done regarding the issue showed that, “the companies would take a loss upfront, but over the long run these mortgage modifications would save the companies money because they would lead to lower default rates.” Often when there is no good rational explanation, I assume that it’s because of politics that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are refusing to do what is obviously the correct thing. I hope I’m wrong and I hope they change their mind and soon. To see the full article, go here.

Donate Canned Food this Spring Break at Portland Nursery for the Oregon Food Bank


Do you want a chance to win a $50 Portland Nursery Gift Card? Do you want to help feed hungry kids during spring break? Of course you do! Drop off packages/cans of non-perishable, low-fat and low-sugar foods between March 24 – 31 at either Portland Nursery location (5050 SE Stark and 9000 SE Division) to be entered into the raffle and get a free packet of seeds. It’s a win-win situation! See the Portland Nursery events page for more details of desired food items.

by Betsy Ballantyne