Portland Metro Highlights
Portland Market Update - January 2016

Real Estate activities across the board remained strong in January
  • New Listings increased 63.8% (2,519) over the new listing offered in December 2015
  • Pending Sales increased 15.9% over the offers accepted in December
  • Closed Sales ended 15.9% higher than in January 2015
  • Inventory for the Portland metro area increased to 1.8 months

Average and Median Sales Prices continued to increase
  • Average sales price rose 6.7% from $333,400 to $3555,700
  • Median sales price rose 8.1% from $286,800 to $310,000

For the Latest Portland Real Estate Market Highlights - check out the Market Action Report & Neighborhood Stats below.

In the event you or someone you know is thinking about selling or buying a home, give me a call at 503-319-5684 or email arnett@realtytrust.com to discuss current market activity and conditions.
2016 Remodel Trends: Fad Factor or Here to Stay?

Wide Plank Hardwood Flooring

Wider hardwood planks in longer lengths are becoming popular, according to the World Floor Covering Association. It is now easier to find products that are 5 to 7 inches wide, sometimes in lengths of up to 6 feet.

Fad Factor: Low, as long as other style features don't combine enough fringe elements to make the overall look seem "out there". For example, very wide planks that have also been heavily hand-scraped for a rustic look could create an overwhelming effect.

Mixing Textures and Materials

"Mixing it up" by using different textures and variations of natural materials in the same room is a growing trend.

Fad Factor: Low to moderate, depending on the choice of materials. The goal is an effect that is naturally pleasing to the eye, not one that takes over the room. (Some current design journal photos look as though five competing styles got stuffed into one space.)

Thin Countertops

Thin countertops have been popular in Europe for years and are coming into style in the U.S. Materials such as large-slab porcelain allow for a thin surface that is still strong and durable.

Fad Factor: Low. It's a sleek look that does not compromise on ease of use.

Low-Gloss Finishes

The World Floor Covering Association reports that more homeowners are selecting a low-gloss or satin finish on hardwood flooring. Engineered quartz countertops, which are extremely popular, can be ordered with a honed finish, and granite can be surfaced to resemble low-sheen leather.

Fad Factor: Low. There has been a general movement away from "shiny" for years, and it matches the trend towards a more minimalist look.

Gray Tones for Flooring, Walls, and Countertops

Gray is the hot color of 2016, according to many design experts. A gray accent area can provide a nice contrast to surrounding wood tones, while a hint of gray undertone in wood flooring or cabinets often makes for an elegant, modern look.

Fad Factor: Moderate to high. Too much of a gray color scheme will be quite noticeable once it is no longer a current trend, and warm colors are generally a safer bet when selling a home. However, remember that gray can make a subtle statement as an undertone without dominating the primary color.

Charging Stations and Built-In Technology

Many kitchen remodels now include a charging station for smartphones and tablets, often tucked away in a drawer or cabinet. Smart appliances and built-in home features that support technology in nearly every room are becoming commonplace.

Fad Factor: Very low. This trend meets a need that is not going away anytime soon.

Black and White Color Schemes

Along with gray, popular colors for 2016 will be soft whites and black used in combination, according to Forbes.com.

Fad Factor: High. This is a color scheme that makes its presence known, which means it will be especially noticeable when it is no longer in style.

Clean, Minimalist Design

Clean, "Nordic style" lines are in, according to Forbes.com, which is why Shaker style and flat-faced cabinets have been replacing ornate designs. These days the "pop" is more likely to come from an oversized or industrial style cabinet pull.

Fad Factor: Low. It's easier for a simple design to attain the status of "classic" compared to an ornate look. (Just don't simplify to the point that you start losing functionality.)

Trough Sinks in Kitchens and Bathrooms

After years of struggling to fit a pan with a handle into either side of their double sink, homeowners are choosing full-width trough sinks in kitchens and as replacements for the traditional double vanity in master bathrooms.

Fad Factor: Low. A sink large enough to handle nearly anything is a welcome boost in functionality, especially in the kitchen.

Black Stainless Steel Appliances

Nearly two-thirds of respondents in a 2016 Houzz.com Kitchen Trends Study said they would consider black stainless steel appliances. KitchenAid and General Electric are now marketing black or graphite lines.

Fad Factor: Probably low. Stainless steel has remained a popular material, and the black version has an elegant, high-end look.

Deep Slide-Out Kitchen and Bathroom Shelving

Gone are the days of clawing around in the back of a dark cabinet trying to find an item you can't even see. Pull-out shelves and storage drawers make life much easier, and they can be installed at a wide variety of price points.

Fad Factor: Very low. Slide-out storage is a great upgrade in terms of ease of use.

Very Light or Dark Hardwood Flooring

Lime-washed hardwoods with a "coastal" look are coming into fashion, while over the past few years a dark espresso color for wood flooring has also been very popular.

Fad Factor: Moderate to high. Lime-washed hardwoods stand out with their pale color tone and tend to show a lot of wood grain, which can make rooms look busy. Dark hardwood floors are still very popular; however, the trend is now towards slightly lighter hues compared to the darkest end of the spectrum.

A Built-In Bidet

Not exactly topping the headlines of the latest design journals (but quietly growing in popularity in the U.S.) is the bidet built into the toilet seat. The Houzz.com 2015 Bathroom Trends Study reported that five percent of master bathroom renovations last year included a bidet.

Fad Factor: Low. The built-in versions don't set themselves apart much visually, and the fact that they offer greater ease of use for the elderly and the mobility-impaired matches the very prevalent "aging in place" accessibility design trend.

Things to Keep in Mind...

- If a style leaves people scrambling to compensate for a useful feature that was eliminated it is not likely to last long, regardless of how nice it looks.

- Choosing the extreme version of any trend is usually somewhat of a bigger risk.

- In the end, desirable appearance and good functionality are crucial for any remodel trend to have staying power.

Remodeling soon? If so, two helpful sources of information are:

The 2015 Houzz.com Bathroom Trends Study (Over 7,600 respondents.)

The 2016 Houzz.com Kitchen Trends Study (Over 2,400 respondents.)

Recent Market Highlights
Market chart icon

- U.S. home prices rose 5.8 percent year-to-year in November, according to a recent S&P/Case-Shiller report. They rose 6.3 percent year-to-year in December, according to CoreLogic, a data and analytics company.

- The national average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has remained close to 4 percent.

The December Pending Home Sales Index rose 4.2 percent year-to-year, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
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Note: Housing statistics based on closed sales typically reflect market conditions of two or three months ago. To find out what's going on right now in your local market, please contact me directly.

Contact Me for Market Information
Are you curious about your home's current market value, or do you have a question about home buying? Just reply to this email, or call me at (503) 319-5684.
Links that Make Life Easier

Sometimes real estate-related, sometimes not... these are assorted links that come in handy:

The Most Overlooked Tax Deductions
Kiplinger's guide to the 25 most overlooked deductions for 2015 tax returns.

Signs of a Meth Lab
Pointers on sights and smells that help tell you if a house may have been used as a meth lab.

Hemingway App for Concise Writing
Just copy and paste some text into the Hemingway App to get color-coded recommendations to make your writing simpler and more effective.

92 Random Acts of Kindness
A wide selection of ideas for making other people happy, from blogger Brad Aronson.

Smoked Gouda-Chorizo Jalapeno Popper Recipe
An easy-to-make and extremely tasty choice that's handy for get-togethers and pot-lucks.

The Lighter Side

Harmony Hill Primary School in Ireland gained fame recently after school staff sent an unusual letter to students who were awaiting the results of an important exam. The main message: "... your attitude and who you are as a person is much more important than any mark on a test."

screenshot and link to video

Encouraging students to not give up easily when the going gets tough, the letter advised them to " grow up to be kind, caring, generous, loving adults who make a positive difference to this world by how you live your life." Good words for all of us to keep in mind!

Click here or on the image to read the entire letter on the Good News Network.

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Are you thinking of buying or selling a home in the next year, or could you use some remodeling advice? Even if you just need the name of a good service provider, please remember that I'm always here to help you. I welcome the opportunity to serve you, your friends and associates with my expertise and recommendations.
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