Buying and selling real estate in Eugene Springfield is never easy. Houses are big ticket items and getting it right is important. How do you get it right? I think the best way is to find a good Realtor who’s honest and understands the market. Bell Real Estate is 100% local and has been serving clients in Lane County for over 45 years. How do you stay in business that long? We think by doing it right.
Bell is a full service firm, probably best known for its property management, in which we’re a market leader. We also have Realtors, of whom I’m one, doing a brisk business buying and selling property for clients. If you have questions about buying or selling real estate in Lane County, I’d be glad to help.
Bell Real Estate’s Main Office at 630 River Road
The new year makes a convenient time to look back and also pull out our crystal ball. 2012 may have marked the bottom of our real estate market in Eugene & Springfield. Prices have trended up in the last few months. Mostly, this is brought about by lack of supply, that is too few houses actively for sale.
In real estate’s boom years, before 2008, supplies of houses for sale dipped below two months, which was a strong seller’s market. At the depths of the Great Recession, supplies greater than a year were seen around Eugene Springfield, indicating a strong buyer’s market. Lately, we’ve been at 6 months or less, which is a mild sellers market.
Eugene Springfield January 2013
Why the lack of supply of houses for sale? One reason is Senate Bill 1552. This good intentioned Bill had the effect of decreasing the rate of completed foreclosures, so fewer of them are on the market and more are still in the process of foreclosure. The Oregon Supreme Court is scheduled to take a look at this in January 2013. My guess is that they or the Legislature will change something.
Fundamentally, the prices of real estate are affected by things like inward migration and unemployment rate. We’ve had fewer immigrants to Oregon in the last few years, and unemployment rates are stubbornly high, although decreasing.
My prediction for house prices in 2013 for Eugene Springfield is flat to mildly increasing. I’ve been wrong before, though, and we’ll have to wait and see.
According to CNN, more homes are being purchased with cash these days. Obviously, if you’re purchasing a house with cash, you’re either well-off or, at the very least, not feeling the crunch of the Great Recession.
I took a look at the recent sales in the Eugene Springfield area as reported by RMLS to see if the trend held true to us. In the preceding month’s time period, about 20% were, indeed, cash sales.
That’s pretty high.
The homes did tend to be lower priced though. The most expensive listing sold during that month was my own listing—weighing in at nearly ¾ million dollars. It was not sold for cash, though; but rather a conventional loan was used.
High-end homes are still selling in Eugene.
Experts are saying the prices for houses are close to the bottom—meaning price increases are just around the corner. And, houses are becoming increasingly affordable. Nationally, house prices are less than two-years’ salary. In Lane County, though they’re still higher than that.
However home ownership is part of the American Dream and the net worth of home owners is some 40-times greater than renters.
Is home ownership in your dreams?
Remodeling and renovating is another area of the market in Eugene and Springfield that fell on hard times during the Great Recession. We have bottomed-out though—and business is improving.
While home improvements don’t return dollar for dollar on resale, they still make sense if you plan to stay in the house for a period of time.
Rebuilding the housing market brick by brick.
The logging and wood products industries are recovering, but slowly. Both are significant sources of employment in Lane County. Additionally, the housing market is the chief source of demand for wood products. Construction of more single-family houses is what’s needed, but building of such homes is at low levels around Eugene Springfield—and nationwide.
Before more new home building can start up, the inventory of existing homes for sale needs to decrease. In the meantime, it’s a great time to buy.
New home construction fell to an all time low in February 2011, with an annualized national number of building permits at 517K. In Eugene Springfield new residential building is very slow right now. New building permits issued in January were reported to be 27, down 13% from January 2010. 466 building permits were issued in Eugene Springfield for all of last year.
Distressed properties are often cheaper than replacement cost, and there’s a lot of inventory of all types of houses to be sold; until both of those change, I don’t expect new house building to pick up much.
It’s still a great time to buy, though. Prices are down in Eugene Springfield and there are some great values.
There are fewer homes being built in Eugene Springfield in 2011
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.
Sales of distressed property nationwide represent over 1/3 of recent sales. While the exact numbers for Eugene and Springfield aren’t available, the nationwide trend is representative of our local conditions. Many of these properties are being bought by investors—surprisingly for all cash. Tight credit is keeping a lot of buyers out of the market for these distressed properties.
Below is an example of a recent all-cash sale I made for a buyer in Springfield. It was a good bargain and will produce great cash flow. The house sold for $66,000. If you’re interested in rentals in Eugene and Springfield, get in touch with me.
We don’t often think about the Railroad in Eugene, unless there’s a problem–it’s just one of those things we take for granted. We are on the main-line between Seattle and Los Angeles, and local manufacturers still ship and receive product by rail car, a very efficient transportation method. (A train can move a ton of freight over 400 miles on 1 gallon of fuel, some three times more efficient than trucks). And, shooting up to Portland or Seattle via Amtrack is popular.
Gone, at least for now, are the major switching operations in the Eugene railyard. After Union Pacific bought Southern Pacific, many of the Eugene yard’s functions were consolidated to Roseville and elsewhere. When I was growing up here, S.P.’s yard was a significant employer. In the necessary drive towards efficiency, those jobs seem to be gone. Interestingly, rail shipping rates in the U.S. are the cheapest in the world.
On a brighter note, the elimination of the Eugene switching yard has made the adjoining neighborhoods in Santa Clara, River Road and Bethel more desirable. Train noise was a perceived problems when switching was occurring, but that’s been largely made a non-issue.
Eugene is connected to the U.S. by rail