Oregon Tsunami Damage

Cities on the Pacific Ocean are vulnerable to Tsunami.

Tsunami damage to Oregon following the terrible March 11 9.0 earthquake in Japan was relatively light although Governor Kitzhaber is seeking disaster-area status for some coastal areas.  Damage in California was greater, and there was one known fatality.

Crescent City, just south of the Oregon border, was particularly hard hit—this area is unfortunately vulnerable to tsunamis and was devastated after the 1964 Alaskan earthquake.

Oregon’s major populations centers, namely: Portland, Salem, Corvallis and Eugene are all immune to tsunamis because the Willamette Valley is separated from the coast by tall mountains.  However, coastal communities like Brookings, CoosBay, Florence, Newport, Tillamook, CanonBeach and Astoria are vulnerable.  Fortunately, they have evacuation plans and procedures. 

Since the Japanese earthquake occurred thousands of miles away across the Pacific Ocean, there was a warning period of hours, and evacuations in Oregonwent smoothly.  The evacuations were prudent, but ultimately proved not needed to prevent the loss of life.  Better, of course, to be safe than sorry—the loss of life in Japan is over 13,000 people at the time of this writing, and no-doubt will climb.

Many properties around Lane County are in flood zones and may require flood insurance.  Typically, if you’re in the 100-year flood zone, your mortgage lender will require flood insurance.  Most homeowners’ casualty policies do not insure against floods or earthquakes without special riders.  You are only insured for what your policy says—not what you think you’re insured against.  It doesn’t hurt to ask your insurance agent for what perils you’re actually covered.

Green Buildings Are Worth More

Cap rates for LEED certified commercial buildings are ½ percentage point better than for standard, non-green buildings.  Green building is a nice concept, but the marketplace’s acceptance will really help it take hold.

In Eugene and Springfield, there are very few LEED certified buildings so it’s hard to know how they’ll fare in the marketplace.  One problem with both commercial and residential green buildings is that appraisers don’t yet value them appropriately.  Of course, that will change—but for now it can cause problems if lenders are involved.

More buildings are going green these days.

Eugene Produces Local Electricity

Locally produced electricity for 13,000 homes will soon start to flow through Eugene’s power lines.  Seneca Jones has completed construction of its $45 million cogeneration plant.  Some two years in the making, before long, the plant will be feeding our power grid.  The cogeneration plant will use woody biomass—a renewable resource—produced from the mill and forests.

The concept isn’t entirely new however.  The old Weyerhauser mill in Springfield has a power generation plant producing over 2 ½ times Seneca’s 18.8 megawatts.  And, old timers will remember that EWEB used to burn hog-fuel (a very coarse saw dust) at its facility on the banks of the Willamette River.

Eugene is known for being green and environmentally friendly.  We also benefit from inexpensive electricity—keeping our cost of living down.  It’s an interesting world in which brush from the woods can be powering our cars.

Cogeneration feeding local power.

The Importance of Buying Local

Buying local is not a new concept for Eugene and Springfield residents.  But—it’s not always so easy.  On a recent ABC news story, they experimented by eliminating all non-U.S. produced items from a typical house.  Hardly anything was left.

However, they were able to replace the items with domestically produced products.  What’s the lesson?  It is said that if each of us spent a mere $3.33 per year on American-made products 10,000 jobs would be created.

Of course, when you need services such as a realtor, choosing local is an easier option.

How many local jobs are supplied by Coca-Cola?

Earthquakes

The destruction from the recent earthquake in Japan and in Christchurch, New Zealand is a reminder of how vulnerable we all can be.  All construction and engineering is a balance between risk management and economics.  It’s possible to build a structure that will essentially never fall down.  However, that would be very expensive—and affording the building is the real key.
So how safe are structures in Eugene and Springfield?  At least one company thought they weren’t safe enough—Symantec is spending millions of dollars to upgrade its Springfield facilities.

The possibility of an earthquake in Lane County is there—we live in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which is known to be seismically active.  So what can you do?  Local building codes have continued to become more stringent and therefore more earthquake resistant so new structures will fare better if an earthquake does happen.  Plus, earthquake insurance is available.

What do most of us do?  Ignore the risk.

 

Will building codes keep earthquake aftermath in Lane County from looking like this?

Short Sales in Eugene and Springfield

Short sales in Eugene and Springfield are becoming increasingly commonplace.  While difficult, both buyers and sellers put up with them.  Why?  For sellers, short sales damage their credit less than other options.  For buyers, they represent great values.

Even expensive homes aren’t immune to short sales.  Below is an example of a short sale I recently did.  It sold for nearly ¾ of a million dollars.  At 8 acres and 1/8 mile of McKenzie River frontage it was a great buy.

If short sales in Eugene or Springfield intrigue you, get a hold of me.

Economic Expansion Largest In Years

In a recent Wall Street Journal article it was reported that the rate of economic expansion (GDP increase) is expected to be its largest since 2003.   And while national unemployment is still high, it is expected to dip below 9% by the year’s end.  Currently the unemployment in Lane County is still above 10%.
 
So what does this mean for housing prices?   Housing prices are affected by a number of factors, but fundamentally, it comes down to supply and demand.  High unemployment decreases demand; you need a job in order to pay your mortgage.  I expect a soft market in Eugene Springfield until our stubbornly high unemployment rate drops.

More jobs will help Eugene's real estate market.