Unemployment Improves

Lane County Unemployment Rate,

Lane County Unemployment Rate,

CNN just reported that the national unemployment rate keeps improving, with 7.7% reported as the latest number.  Oregon is doing a little worse, with 8.3% reported as the most recent figure.  Data for Lane County is lagging a bit, but as of December, we’re a little under 8%, which is a vast improvement from 13+% at the depths of the recent Great Recession.  An improving employment picture is good for a number of reasons.  However, when unemployment gets to about 6.5%, mortgage interest rates will probably rise because the Fed’s monetary policies will change.

Economic haziness is starting to clear.

Economic haziness is starting to clear.

Housing Prices Continue to Rise Nationwide, in Portland, and Eugene Springfield

Nationwide, house prices grew at an annualized rate of 7.3%  according to fourth quarter 2012 numbers, recently released by Case Shiller.  Real estate prices are local, however, and nationwide trends are sometimes different than those in Oregon.  Portland is the closest city tracked by Case Shiller, and they’ve been trending up as shown below.  Real Estate prices have been generally trending up in Eugene Springfield Oregon since last summer, 2012, which is a welcomed trend.

Portland, Oregon House Prices.

Portland, Oregon House Prices.

Rental Houses and Income Property in Eugene Springfield, Oregon

The Register Guard recently ran an interesting article on rental houses.  I thought the information was good, if at a pretty general level.  Still you’ve gotta start somewhere.  One quote from the article was particularly on point:

“In this market, at this point, it’s a sweet spot,” says Chris Princis, a senior executive at financial advisory firm Brook-Hollow Financial and owner of two rental properties in Chicago. “You’re getting the market where it’s just starting to rebound, but still at the bottom, with what’s looking to be a great recovery.”

I’ve been a real estate broker and property manager for rentals in Eugene Springfield for decades, and like to think I know what I’m doing.  Broadly, we find owners in two categories:

  • Investors who make a business out of buying, renting and selling rentals, and
  • Accidental landlords who got into the house rental business in Eugene Springfield because of a change in circumstances, for instance a career mandated move.

The professional investors usually understand rental properties in Eugene Springfield pretty well.  When buying or selling rentals, their chief concern is often the numbers.  The learning curve for rentals is pretty steep, in my opinion, and most professional investors have paid to learn.  Having said that, real estate transactions do change over time, and if you haven’t done one in awhile, you’ll be surprised at that.  It can be difficult to evaluate income property when you’re considering a purchase, and a Realtor familiar with rentals in Eugene Springfield will be invaluable.

Eugene Oregon rental house I just sold. Purchased for a rental.

Eugene Oregon rental house I just sold. Purchased for a rental.

Accidental landlords and newbies usually have much to learn.  One thing the RG article says that I particularly agree with, is the importance of figuring out rentals.  However this takes both time and experience, so doesn’t come easily or quickly.  It usually costs nothing to work with a realtor us when you’re the buyer, which is an added plus.  Selling rentals also has its unique set of requirements, and a Realtor familiar with rentals will help you out.

Rental house I have listed. This is owned by 'accidental landlords' who moved out of state.

Rental house I have listed. This is owned by ‘accidental landlords’ who moved out of state.

Property management isn’t exactly easy, especially when you’re starting out.  Probably the most difficult aspect is learning all the rules and regulations, then keeping current with them; they change over time, and new rules with which you must comply also get added.  If you have a limited number of rentals, it probably makes the most sense to have a good property management company run them for you.  If you have many rentals, economics may justify you running them yourself.

Residential income property in Eugene Springfield is just like anything else–the more you know, the better.  A realtor that thinks every day about rentals in Lane County, Oregon can be a great aide in purchasing, managing, or selling.  If you have an interest in Eugene Springfield rentals, please contact me if I may help.

Refiancing vs. Short Sale in Eugene Springfield Oregon

I frequently run across clients and friends in Eugene Springfield that want to lower their mortgage payments, but are not sure what to do about it.  As a Realtor, one option I usually discuss is selling, which may or may not make sense depending on the situation.  2013 Lane County real estate prices are currently somewhere around where they were in 2004, so if folks have purchased or refinanced in the last 8 or 9 years, there’s often not enough equity to sell without being short.  There are plenty of short sales in Eugene Springfield these days, and it’s certainly an option for some, but not all.

Without sufficient equity, it also may be difficult to refinance.  One notable exception is FHA Streamline Refinance.  I’m not a lender and refer my clients, but as the lenders have explained the program it has some really good features, and some guidelines.  Guidelines for FHA Streamline Refinancing are:

1)  For homeowners with existing FHA mortgages.

2)  Monthly mortgage payment needs to be reduced by 5+% by the refinance.

3)  3 month perfect payment history on your loan, and 1 or less late mortgage payments in the last year.

4)  No appraisal required.

5)  No income verification.

6)  No minimum credit score.

7)  For existing loans close before June, 2009, minimal upfront MIP cost (.01%) and low monthly MIP (.55%/yr).

For some homeowners with FHA loans in Lane County, FHA Streamlined Refinance may make a lot of sense.  For others, selling may be a good option.  And for others, sitting tight and waiting for the real estate market in Eugene Springfield to fully recover may be the best option.  If you have real estate questions, please contact me.  If you’d like a referral to good lenders, I’d be happy to do that too.

(c) Robyn Hine.  Used with permission.

(c) Robyn Hine. Used with permission.

Buying and Selling Duplexes in Eugene Springfield, Lane County, Oregon

Duplexes remain a popular choice with real estate investors in Eugene Springfield, Lane County, Oregon.  Most duplexes in Lane County, but certainly not all, are located in the greater Eugene Springfield area.  I’ve found there’s a little more demand for city area duplexes than those in the country.  At the time of this posting, there is a lot of buying pressure on Eugene Springfield duplexes and not an abundance of inventory.  Of course, all markets equilibrate over time, and the duplex market will too.  High demand and low supply tends to push up prices.

There is no shortage of sages and money gurus who have something to say about real estate.  In fact, you could probably spend a lot of money on seminars that tell you how things supposedly work; unfortunately, in the real world of real estate and real estate investing most of the seminar ideas I’ve heard don’t work very well.  What does work well in the real world is to buy quality properties, manage them adequately, and hold the investment for a number of years.  When real estate investing is done correctly, the passage of time will make you look like a genius.

Duplex that I listed in sold.  Near full price and in about a month.

Duplex that I listed in sold. Near full price and in about a month.

What are advantages to a duplex, and why do folks like them for real estate investments in Lane County?  The following are some of the reasons.

Price:  They are relatively cheap as a real estate investment, so more people can afford them, so the market and demand is larger for a less expensive investment; high demand and a large market are what you want.

Owner occupied:  Some owners will want to live in one side of the duplex and rent out the other side.  The tenant in effect helps pay your mortgage, which is a nice benefit.  Duplexes are also popular in extended family situations, where someone wants to be close, but not too close.  Duplexes are one of the few real estate investments that allow for both an owner occupant as well as tenants.

Financing:  One to four unit complexes are usually easier and cheaper to finance than multi unit complexes, greater than 4 units.  And, owner occupied financing is especially cheap.  A portion of the rent, say 75% to 90%, can be counted on the loan application, which also helps.  Talking to a good loan officer is always a good idea.

Cash Flow:  A duplex provides a little better cash flow than single family houses.  For instance, the rents on 2 120K houses might be $750 each, or $1,500 total, whereas, a 240K duplex might go for $800 per side.

How do you analyze Eugene Springfield duplexes as rental investments?  There is not one correct way to do it, but this is how I do it.  First, I look at the property itself, and factors I consider are:

I showed this duplex last week.

I showed this duplex last week.

Property Location:  This is the most important factor, because it’s the one thing you can’t change.  Chances are if you find an area icky and wouldn’t want to live in it, others may feel that way too, meaning it’s less desirable and rents will need to be lower to compensate for that.

In analyzing location, some of the things to consider are:

  • Is it on a busy street?  A quiet street is better.
  • Is it near a large source of traffic such as a store or school?  It’s better if there is low traffic.
  • Is it near industry that might give off odors or noise?  I like to avoid houses located close to industrial or commercial sites.
  • How do the other homes on the street look?  Similar in age and condition is best.  Property values do best in homogenous neighborhoods.
  • Is it in an area of owner occupied houses, or many rentals?  I prefer owner occupied.
  • Is the street improved or will it need costly repairs in the future?  I like streets with curbs and gutters; streets without them, at least in Eugene Springfield, will probably get them in the future and adjoining property owners often foot the bill.
  • Is it on sewer or septic tank?  I prefer sewer because maintenance costs are less.
  • Are there flood plain issues?  Outside of the flood plain is best.

Condition of the Property:  Generally, you’re better off paying a little more for a higher quality property.  Better quality is easier to rent and tends to take less maintenance over the long haul.  As a practical matter, duplex rents around Eugene Springfield tend to cap out around $1,300 or so per month, so there’s a price limit above which duplexes start to make less sense.  Ultimately, if you are buying, getting a home inspection is a great idea, and I’m a Realtor, not a home inspector, so I don’t inspect homes.  However, I do pay close attention to the condition and quality of the duplex.  Things I pay specific attention to are:

  • Foundation:  Is it slab or stem wall.  Both are ok.  With a slab (sometimes called slab-on-grade, to distinguish it from a post-tensioned-slab, popular in California, but not in Lane County), there is no under floor wood to rot, but if there’s a problem with plumbing, or sometimes even electrical, they’re more expensive to fix because utilities are commonly in or beneath the slab, which needs to be cut and repoured.  The bottom of the wall (wall plate) is more vulnerable to dry rot with a slab, but still can be a problem with a stem-wall; wall plates are typically difficult to evaluate.  Exterior water control is especially important in pre 1980 slabs.  Slabs are hard to evaluate unless there are obvious failures, like cracks and displacement that have pushed up part of the floor.

For stem walls, I look for cracks that are large enough to put a pencil in or that have moved, which is also called faulting.  Given the amount of rain we get in Eugene Springfield, I look out for wet crawlspace areas, which aren’t desirable, but are fixable.


  • Subfloor:  Moisture, pests and dryrot are the major things to watch out for.  Generally, you can only tell about the subfloor with a home inspection.  It is easy miss underfloor problems unless you’re well trained.  However, sometimes when a house is really bad, the floor will be especially lively (bouncy) or may be noticeably out of level.  Common, but easy to fix, subfloor problems are missing or incomplete plastic ground cover and the presence of excess cellulose debris.  Installing or fixing 6 mil, opaque, visqueen, a type of plastic, and removal of saw dust left over from construction are the fixes for the aforementioned.  I have seen houses with over 20K worth of sub-floor problems due to insects.  These types of problems are difficult, and therefore expensive, to fix because there’s a very heavy and big house in the way.


  • Siding:  HardiePlank type siding, real cedar, and plywood-T-111 are my favorites, in that order.  Manufactured siding made of wood fiber and resin is not as good, in my opinion, but can perform well if you keep it painted and caulked, which not everyone does.  Transite type siding is my least favorite because it contains asbestos, and remediation isn’t cheap.  I usually take note of how good the exterior paint is and if it will be needing paint soon.  Houses older than 1978 may contain lead and paint jobs for them are more expensive.  Exterior paint jobs in general, have gotten more expensive than you might think, so good paint is a plus, but bad paint is an easy problem to fix.  Bare wood and/or chipping paint can be problems that appraisers don’t like, especially if a loan is VA or FHA.  Good flashing above penetrations (windows and doors) is a plus, but if it’s not there, good caulking is an ok substitute.  It’s important to caulk sunken nail holes in newer, manufactured, siding; they are a path of moisture migration which is the enemy of structures in general, and siding in specific.
  • Roof:  Without a good roof, a duplex won’t last long in Lane County, where rain is plentiful.  Leaks are problematic, especially with the modern specter of mold.  A roof has to have some life left in it, perhaps 5 years, for a property to finance.  Roofs with a pitch above 2′ to 3′ in 12′ can be shingled, and those lower than that need either a membrane, metal, or hot-mopped roof.  Shingles are cheaper.  There are two types of common asphalt shingles seen in Eugene Springfield, namely, composite and 3 tab.  I prefer composite, which is also called laminate  The number of layers in the roof should be noted.  Sometimes for a reroof, the new shingles are laid over the old for cost savings.  While this works, it’s not as good as removing the old shingles.  Sings of an ageing roof are degranulation on the shingles, and rounded or curling shingle corners.

Cedar shakes were very popular in Eugene Springfield in the 1960s and 1970s, but is rare to see them used any more.  Generally, when I see a shake roof it’s at the end of its life and will need replaced sooner or later.  Metal roofs are long lasting, but not especially common.  They’re expensive and the one complaint I hear about them is that they’re noisy when it rains.  Concrete shingles are common on higher-end homes, but I don’t see them often on Eugene Springfield duplexes.  Copper and slate are very high-end, and are almost never seen on duplexes or other multifamily housing in Eugene Springfield.  Roofs leaks tend to occur around penetrations, such as vent pipes for HVAC , chimneys, and sky-lights.  The condition of penetrations and flashing is hard to see from the ground, so will most often be determined by the home inspection.

  • Windows and doors:  Many older duplexes around Eugene Springfield have had their widows replaced, and finding a duplex with newer, vinyl ,thermo-pane windows is a plus.  Fiberglass-clad, thermo-pane windows are good, but not as common.  The next best, in my opinion, is aluminum thermo-pane, which were common in the 1970s and 1980s.  Least desirable are single-pane because they’re not as energy efficient, and they sweat, which is icky.  Wooden sash windows can be visually appealing, but require more maintenance, and are best avoided, if possible, for a duplex.  Similarly, exterior wooden doors are esthetically appealing, but unappealing from a maintenance standpoint.  Insulated fiberglass or metal doors are preferable, in my opinion.  Fiberglass doesn’t dint when struck by an angry fist, a bizarrely common occurrence with rentals, but is more expensive, and therefore less common.  Many, but not all, duplexes in Eugene Springfield have garages, and therefore garage doors.  Modern, insulated, metal, overhead, garage doors provide the most bang for the buck.  Their one drawback is their susceptibility to dents.  Older wooden or composite doors can still provide acceptable service and are ok.  My least favorite is non-insulated, single layer, metal doors because they are very prone to dents.  Tenants around Eugene Springfield tend to expect automatic garage door openers.  If doors and windows need replaced, they can be done fairly cheaply.
  • Floor Plan:  Most duplexes in Lane County are not architecturally designed, meaning the builder likely picked a stock set of plans from a plan book.  Some floorplans are better than others.  Floorplans have changed over time in Eugene Springfield.  Before the 1980s many smaller rooms were common.  From the ’80s and beyond open, great-room concepts are more popular.  There is no definitively good or bad floor plan, so you’ll have to use common sense when evaluating the livability of the floor plan.  My personal preference is towards great rooms with vaulted ceilings because the duplex will feel bigger, and it’s well liked by the Lane County marketplace.  Three bedroom, 2 bath, 1,200 s.f. per side is my personal favorite, but 2/1’s are more common around Eugene Springfield, and are fine, but rent for less.  Single floor is more accessible than multi-floor, so the tenant pool is larger.
  • Walls & Ceilings:  Textured drywall is the most common ceiling and wall system used for duplexes in Eugene Springfield.  Duplexes from the 1960s and 1970s may have popcorn ceilings, which is less desirable, but probably adequate, especially if painted.  Thin coat plaster is desirable because it’s more durable, but is not common.  Older duplexes may have true plaster applied over lath boards.  While adequate, it’s harder to repair.  Most walls and ceilings have cracks, which usually aren’t anything to worry about.  Sometimes, they can indicate a settling problem, which may need to be investigated.
  • Interior Paint:  Newer, nicer, interior paint is a plus, but if not present is easy to fix.  Paint and floor coverings probably do more than anything else to make a rental seem clean and nice.

Duplexes built before 1978 may contain lead paint.  Watch out for discoloration due to mold or water leaks.  If either are present, they should be investigated and repaired.

  • Floor coverings:  Floor coverings, like tenants, come and go.  Nicer newer floor coverings are a plus, but shouldn’t sway a deal one way or the other because floor coverings are relatively cheap, and you will probably buy them one or more times.  Common floor coverings for duplexes and rentals in Eugene Springfield are:  Carpet, Vinyl (Linoleum), and Laminate (Pergo-type flooring).  Carpet looks good, is inexpensive, and quiet.  It is fairly easy to stain or damage, which is a downside.  Carpet is very common in Eugene Springfield duplexes.  Vinyl makes a great water resistant flooring, and is desirable in wet areas, such as kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms.  Laminate looks good and is durable.  Some laminates are not very water resistant and edge-swell when exposed to moisture, which isn’t good.  Ceramic tile is sometimes seen in duplexes, usually in entry-ways, kitchens and baths.  It’s durable and looks good.  It can, however, be difficult to match tiles for replacement, but sometimes extra tiles are left behind, obviating this problem.  Occasionally, you’ll see slate tiles, usually for entry ways.  They look nice.  When sealed, slate can be slippery, though.  VCT, vinyl composition tile was once very popular but has fallen out of favor.  Hardwood is liked by most everyone I deal with.  Periodic refinishing is required, and can be a little expensive.  New finished-in-place hardwood is around $10/s.f. in Eugene Springfield, costing about four times more than carpet or vinyl, so wouldn’t be my floor covering of first choice for a Eugene Springfield duplex.
  • Plumbing:  Landlords and plumbers probably spend the most time thinking about plumbing.  Why?  Because it’s expensive.  Copper or plastic are the two most common types of materials for water supply.  (Common plastic pipe choices for supply side are CPVC and PEX)  I personally prefer copper because more people understand it, at least at this point in time, so it tends to be easier to fix.  Galvanized supply pipes are sometimes seen.  These are adequate, but some don’t like them because they can corrode from the inside.  Galvanized was popular in Eugene Springfield duplexes up to the 1970s.  ABS and cast iron are the two most common waste and vent pipes seen in duplexes in Eugene Springfield.  Both are fine.  I remember plumbers packing cast iron pipe joints with hemp and pouring in molten lead, which would briefly catch the hemp on fire.  Quite a show, but very rare these days.  ABS is safe, quick and cheap.  Most have their favorite brand of faucets, and I’m no exception, and happen to like Moen, but Delta and Price Pfister also have their adherents.  For sinks, I prefer stainless in the kitchen and enameled steel elsewhere.  Both are low maintenance.  Glass door shower and tub enclosures are a good investment.  Tenants do not shut vinyl shower curtains, for reasons unbeknownst to me, and you will get dry rot eventually.  Caulking is your friend in wet areas.

Electrical:  Seeing updated wiring that includes 200 amp separate breaker panels, separate meters, GFCI and arc-fault interrupts is great, but it is rare to find them all unless it’s new construction.  Electrical systems are probably best analyzed by the home inspector.  There are certain brands of breaker panels that inspectors don’t like and usually suggest being replaced.  Other common problems are double taps in the panel, reverse polarity in some of the circuits, and improper grounding.  All are reparable.  Homes and duplexes need smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that are to code before the sale closes.

HVAC:  Heating, ventilation and air conditioning are important and expensive, so it’s good if they work.  Since the 1980s, heat pumps have been a common choice for heating in Lane County.  They utilize heat from the environment and usage costs are lower.  They do take a bit more maintenance, don’t last forever, and aren’t cheap to replace, so they’re not perfect.  For not a lot of money, they can also double as a central air conditioner, if there’s a reversing valve on the compressor, and condenser unit in the air handler.  With our moderate climate in Lane County, air conditioning is a luxury, not a necessity, in my opinion.  Tenants, of course, like air conditioning, but I’m not sure you get more monthly rent by having it.

Another popular choice in Eugene Springfield, for the last couple of decades, has been a gas furnace, either with our without an accessory air conditioner unit.  Natural gas is cheap and reliable, and the furnaces generally don’t require a lot of expensive maintenance.  Ceiling and baseboard heat are simple, reliable, but not as cheap to operate as a heat pump or gas furnace.  Still, they do work, and there’s some logic in the adage:  “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Forced air wall heaters (sometimes referred to by a leading brand, Cadet) are fine.  They’re cheap and reliable.  There was previously a problem with certain makes and models in which they spat out hot metal and were a fire hazard, but most of those have been replaced or incinerated themselves.

Fireplaces are fairly popular because firewood used to be plentiful and cheap in Eugene Springfield.  They tend to be inefficient and there probably needs to be another heat source as well.  Inserts and wood stoves now need to be of the type with an EPA certification or be removed before a sale closes in Oregon.  One rare heating source is a sawdust or coal furnace, sometimes called an octopus.  I hadn’t seen one in years, but ran across one last month.  They were popular around the turn of the last century.  Any that remain probably could stand to be replaced.

The main thing about ventilation is that it’s present and vents to the outside.  Ventilation fans in wet areas (bathroom and laundry rooms) as well as above the stove are good.  Automatic ventilation, such as timer controlled suction fans are sometimes seen in newer, more air-tight, construction, and are fine.   When I was building, our motto was you could never have too much attic ventilation.  Most attic ventilation is passive, but sometimes electric fans are seen.  I rarely see inadequate attic ventilation fixed, meaning it’s not perceived as a huge problem.

Appliances:  Generally, if the appliances work, that’s about all you can hope for.  Appliances in duplexes in Eugene Springfield tend to be low-end.  Personally, I prefer step or two up from the bottom end.  Home inspectors usually do some simple tests to appliances to verify that they generally work.

Landscape, hardscape, & flatwork:  Simple, middle of the road landscaping and flatwork are best for duplexes in Eugene Springfield, at least in my opinion.  Tenants don’t tend to take the greatest care of either, and landlords often end up cleaning up and fixing both.  So, the thinking is that a 10 dollar arborvitae is more pleasant to replace than a $300 vine maple.  Likewise, replacing a $3 cement paver is less painful than a $25 sandstone rock from Montana.

I was the buyer's agent on this duplex.

I was the buyer’s agent on this duplex.

The above are some of the factors that I use to look at the underlying asset, namely the structure, and its condition.   Analyzing the financial performance, or “the numbers” is also important.  There’s more than one way to go about this, and I tend to combine several ways to get an overall gestalt.  Some of the different ways to analyze Duplexes in Eugene Springfield follow:

  • Comps:  By looking at other comparable properties on the market, you can get a feel for prevailing rents and prices.  And if you look at 50 listings every day, as I do, you can pretty quickly size up any property.   Looking at price per square foot can be a useful tool.  I find comps probably the most useful tool in my evaluation.
  • GRM:  Some like the Gross Rent Multiplier, which I find somewhat useful.  Simply put, its a ratio of gross rents to asking or sales price.  I looked MLS for the average GRM for duplexes around  Eugene Springfield, for the last 2 years, and saw quite a range, namely, from 8.5 to over 30.  Average was 11.3

Eugene Springfield Oregon Duplex Graphic

  • Cap Rates:  Capitalization rates can be a very useful factor by which to evaluate income property, but aren’t my favorite for duplexes in Eugene Springfield.  They’re not always reported, and when they are, they’re often not right.  High cap rates can be alluring, but often they are high because the quality of the underlying asset is poor, and the risk is greater.  Not only do you need to know what the range of cap rates are for a type of property in the local market, but also the “mistakes” that people sometimes make to show cap rates as too attractive.  If you don’t know those things, it’s a good idea to find someone who does to help you.
  • Cash Flow:  Ideally, I like to see my owners in properties that are at least cash neutral, which is to say that at a minimum, they pay for themselves.  For duplexes that means they can carry a loan to value ratio somewhere around  75%, if not owner occupied.  Of course, this varies from property to property.  The rationale is that if a property is carrying itself, there’s less risk.  Times can get tough, and if you need to feed a mortgage every month, it can be a strain, or worse, impossible.

So, all of the previously mentioned things are what I think about when evaluating duplexes or multifamily income property in Eugene Springfield.  I was on my first multi-family job site when I was 4 years old and have picked up a thing or two since then.  An experienced and honest Realtor can be invaluable if you’re interested in listing or buying a duplex or income property in Eugene Springfield Oregon.  Please contact me if you’re interested in buying or listing a duplex in Eugene Springfield or elsewhere in Lane County.

This is one way to learn about structures.  I'm in the white in the rear.  The wall jacks were held together with duct tape and bubble gum.  Yikes.

This is one way to learn about structures. I’m in the white in the rear. The wall jacks were held together with duct tape and bubble gum. Yikes.

Camp Creek Road Real Estate, Lane County Oregon

The Camp Creek Road area and its many offshoots are unique and beautiful places to live in Lane County, Oregon.  Hobby farms, country properties, and long-driveway out-of-sight houses are all present.  Housing options range from country estates to humble dwellings with just enough land for a horse or two.  I can’t think of another area that feels like Camp Creek, which is its own little pretty and serene enclave.  And, while it’s many things country, it’s anything but the city.

The Camp Creek area is especially popular with retirees and commuters, since there are very few jobs or employers to speak of along Camp Creek.  The entire road is only 8.5 miles, so it’s a quick trip to either Highway 126 at Walterville, where Camp Creek Road ends to the southeast, or Marcola Road, where it ends to the northwest.  So, it’s about 10 or 15 minutes to Springfield, which is close-in country, by my definition.  But definitely country–horses and cows are numerous and small farms are plentiful.

Camp Creek is one of the few small roads that span between two areas:  The Mohawk Valley and the McKenzie Valley.  At the Marcola Road end, Camp Creek Road is in the Mohawk valley and it has that feel to it.  After a couple of miles, though, it changes to McKenzie valley, both by definition and in feel.  Camp Creek Road hugs the base of the Camp Creek Hills, running between them and the McKenzie River.  With a setting like that, it makes for a beautiful place to live.

The settled area of Camp Creek encompasses perhaps 5,000 acres, depending on which areas you include.  Much of the property with dwellings on it is the low lying flat areas, occupying ancient flood plains.  These areas are popular for farming and grazing, which is a trend that started in the mid-1800s when settlement by European-heritage people began.  The Camp Creek Hills, per se, are generally in the 1000′-2000′ range and make good tree growing property, which is how they are most frequently used.

Property sizes range from under an acre to over 140 acres, when bare timber properties are excluded.  Parcels that are 3-4 acres are especially common.  Around 4 acres is a nice size for a hobby farm because when parcels get too large they tend to own you, which is to say they take a lot of time to maintain. Property values, according to the County, range from 12K to over 1.3 Mm, so there’s a huge range.  Average house and lot value is around 250K, or $133/s.f., according to the County.  There is a very large range in house sizes from about 400 s.f. to over 7,000 s.f., with average size being a little under 2,000 s.f.

There are more waterfront properties in the Camp Creek area than typical.  Camp Creek Road follows the McKenzie River for several miles, affording some properties beautiful views.  Nearby, is also EWEB’s Walterville diversion canal, which also provides waterfront properties.  There is also Camp Creek and numerous other creeks that provide for housing options on or near the water.

Sales data from RMLS, over the last 24 months, reveal 13 actives, 2 pendings and 19 solds; information was current at the time of this posting.  Prices ranged from about 27K to 850K.  Approximate average values for the Camp Creek area are as follows:

  • List Price:  275K
  • Closing Price:  256K
  • Total House Size (s.f.):  1,680
  • Days on Market:  151
  • Year Built:  1974
  • Price per size $/s.f.:  $123

Zoning designations common in the Camp Creek Road area are:  RR, F2 and EFU.  The area is not within any UGB designation, so land development and building permits are controlled by Lane County.  The Camp Creek Road area is in the Springfield School District, and schools are Walterville, Briggs, and Thurston.  Camp Creek Elementary School closed in 2011 after being opened over 60 years ago.  Some of the Camp Creek Road area is within the 100 year flood plain so flood insurance may be necessary.

When houses were built in the Camp Creek area is interesting.  The oldest house dates to 1900, according to County records.  From 1900 to 1949 a total of only 76 houses were built.  Poor roads, world wars, the Great Depression, and a lack of relative prosperity explain the low building rate.  Building increased in the 1950s and 1960s, and 127 homes were built.  Our economy was in a post-war boom and a growing middle class, due to the strong timber industry, wanted to have a little slice of country living and built houses along Camp Creek.

Time of building along Camp Creek.

Time of building along Camp Creek.

The largest building spike occurred in the 1970s, with 155 houses being built in that decade alone.  Relative prosperity and Oregon’s new-found popularity by the counterculture probably explain this.  There were also many fewer restrictions to building in the country; Oregon’s restrictive land use laws were enacted in 1973 and made rural development much more difficult, a trend which continues to this day.  Building was off in the 1980s due to hard economic times in Oregon.  Lane County’s economy had recovered by the 1990s and building was up again, to over 100 houses.

The 2000s to present day have been marked by moderate building in the Camp Creek area.  Much of the low hanging fruit had been picked, that is to say, many properties that were easy and made sense to develop were already built.  And, the Great Recession that began in 2008 brought building to a near halt.  Development in the last couple of decades has trended towards secluded country estates.  There’s even a gated community now, which is pretty rare in Lane County.

The Camp Creek Hills are start of the Western Cascades.  Some 30 to 40 million years ago this area was ocean and the volcanoes to the east of the shoreline erupted ash and lava to form the Western Cascades.  The Camp Creek Road area is thought to be about 25-30 million years old  At several times, the land tilted upward and the ocean eventually retreated to its present location, about 60 miles to the west.  The area was glaciated from 2 million years ago, until about 11,000 years ago.

The Mohawk and McKenzie Valley area, and probably all of Lane County, is thought to have been inhabited for about the last 10,000 years.  The aboriginal inhabitants fared poorly with the coming of European settlers, mostly because of disease.  Europeans had antibodies which the Native Americans did not, and disease decimated the Natives.  The few remaining natives in the Mohawk and McKenzie Valley were moved in 1856 to the Grand Ronde Reservation, which most widely known for the Spirit Mountain Casino.

1855 survey of the Camp Creek area.

1855 survey of the Camp Creek area.

When the original surveys of the Mohawk and McKenzie Valley areas were done around 1855 there were very few settlers present. Camp Creek Road has likely existed for a very long time since it’s a natural route along the McKenzie River.  It was well established by 1855, and is shown on the original survey of the area.  Now, of course, the area is built up and there are thousands of inhabitants.  Most work in Eugene Springfield and the average travel time to work is around 1/2 hour.

There are many street like driveways off Camp Creek Road that aren’t named.  Named roads and streets are:  Sky High Drive, High Ranch Drive, Oakshire Drive, Ellington Drive, Easy Lane, Whitsell Lane, Oakpoint Road, Swearingen Road, Missy Lane, Barker Road, Upper Camp Creek Road, Worth Road, Gemstone Road, Cress Creek Road, Mitten Lane, Mitch Lane, Shenandoah Loop, Ermi Bee Lane, Maranatha Lane, Periwinkle Road, MJ Chase Road, Charley Lane, Stephens Road, Bowen Drive, Patrick Road, Emerald Way, Ruby Lane, Kickbusch Lane, Indian Ford Road, Heather Drive, East of Eden Road, Millican Road, Miller Avenue, Easton Lane, Bryant Lane and McKenzie Acres Drive.

The Camp Creek Road area is a beautiful spot to own real estate.  Buying or selling country property in Lane County can be a challenge, but a good realtor who is familiar with the area can be a great aid to you.. If you are interested in real estate along Goats Road or other country properties in Lane County, Oregon, please contact me.  Or you can search listings here.

Camp Creek

Camp Creek.

McKenzie River photo, Camp Creek, Lane County Oregon

McKenzie River in the Camp Creek area.

EWEB canal, Camp Creek area.

EWEB canal, Camp Creek area.

EWEB powerplant at Walterville.

EWEB powerplant at Walterville.

BPA tower.

BPA tower.



Old barn with mountains in the background.

Old barn with mountains in the background.

A barn from days gone bye.

A barn from days gone bye.

This building has seen better days.

This building has seen better days.

Historic building.

Historic building.

Old church.

Old church.

Restored old logging arch.

Restored old logging arch.

Beautiful horse pasture.

Beautiful horse pasture.

Horse property.

Horse property.

Grazing cows are common along Camp Creek.

Grazing cows are common along Camp Creek.

Paperboxes in front of a gated community.

Paper boxes in front of a gated community.

Fenced pasture along Camp Creek, Lane County, Oregon.

Fenced pasture along Camp Creek, Lane County, Oregon.


Saunders Road Lane County Oregon Country Property

Saunders Road is a quiet little dead end street in the beautiful Mohawk Valley in Lane County, Oregon.  Only a handful of country properties with acreage are there, and they are not frequently on the market.  Saunders Road is very close to Marcola, and only minutes away from Springfield or Eugene.

The Mohawk Valley is east northeast of Springfield and generally follows Marcola Road through and past the town of Marcola.  Saunders Road intersects Marcola Road, less than 1/2 mile from Parsons Creek Road.  Saunders Road is less than a mile in length and there are only a few developed properties on it, ranging from 3 to 5 acres.  There are also a few undeveloped lots for sale, awaiting someone to build their country dream home.

The County shows the value of properties along Saunders Road from about 91K to over 300K, with a median value of around 157K.  Property Sales data from RMLS over the last 24 months reveal no actives, pendings or solds.  Most houses along Saunders road were built between the 1960s and the 1980s.  House sizes range from 880 SF to over 2,200 SF, with a median size of about 1,100 SF.  Median house value, according the County, is about $142/SF, at the time of this posting.

Zoning designations common along Saunders Road are:  RR5, and F2.  It is not within any UGB designation, so land development and building permits are controlled by Lane County.  Saunders Road is in the Marcola School District, and schools are Marcola and Mohawk.

Development of and along Saunders Road started in the 1960s with the conversion of forest property to rural residential.  This continues today and there are several undeveloped F2 lots for sale, which is fairly rare, these days.  Adherents of country living swear by it and would rather “fight than switch,” as some old ad jingle went.  Building a house in the country is, however, more complicated and typically more expensive than one in the city.  Finding and talking with someone familiar with building in Lane County is a good idea.

Saunders Road is a beautiful spot to own real estate.  Buying or selling country property in Lane County can be a challenge, but a good realtor who is familiar with the area can be a great aid to you.  If you are interested in real estate along Saunders Road or other country properties in Lane County, Oregon, please contact me.  Or you can search listings here.

Ornamental grass photo, Mohawk Valley, Lane County, Oregon