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|Thursday, June 26, 2014|
BY ERIC FRUITS | OB BLOGGER
Is it a blip, or a trend?
That is the toughest question that economists have to answer when trying to forecast where the economy is going.
Last year, the housing market in Oregon—and the U.S. as a whole—was blasting off. The Case-Shiller index of home prices ended the year 13 percent higher than at the beginning of the year. A homebuyer who paid $250,000, would have added almost $33,000 in equity over the course of the year. According to past observation, that additional wealth (on paper, at least) would ultimately translate into increased consumer spending which would, in turn, boost the economy.
More detail on the Portland market shows that last year saw a number of home sales that had not been seen the days of the housing boom of the mid 2000s. Last year, 23,500 home sales were recorded, which is about the same value as the last half of 2006 and the first half of 2007.
Even more striking, 2013 saw the average house selling in less than 30 days after it hit the market. It seems that sellers could plant a “For Sale” in the morning and get a phone call with an offer before they went to bed that night.
But, was last year a blip or a trend?
This year, housing has seems to have slowed. The number of transactions seems to have flattened out and the number of days on the market about doubled since last year. Prices do no seem to have the double-digit growth seen a year ago.
Is the current slow down a blip or a trend? Is the market tapping the brakes, or slamming them?
The tough winter elsewhere stalled out housing starts in the first part of the year. That’s a blip. But other things point to potentially troubling trends.
In the second half of last year, mortgage interest rates began to rise, largely because of expectations that the Fed’s bond-buying program, known as quantitative easing, or QE, was coming to an end. And, it does have to end. But, we don’t know when and we don’t know how. Nevertheless, mortgage interest rate are a little less than one percentage point higher this year than they were the same time last year. For a $200,000 mortgage loan, the payment this year is about $100 more per month than for a loan obtained last year.
In addition to rising interest rates, mortgage lending remains somewhat tight. Last year lenders reported loosening lending standards for much of the year. This year has seen a slight tightening of lending. (Or, more precisely, lending is not getting looser.) The combination of higher interest and tighter credit has tapped the brakes on the housing market.
We know that mortgage interest rates will rise, but we don’t know when or by how much. Credit standards will likely remain tight so long has employment and income opportunities remain stagnant or sluggish. Without a boost to employment opportunities and a renewed interest in returning to work, housing and much of the rest of the economy will remain blipping along a series of small ups and downs.
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan
Pacific Seafood, one of the world’s largest processors, is rebranding as a more transparent and consumer-friendly operation. A controversial CEO and monopoly accusations from coastal fishermen complicate the tale.
Friday, February 27, 2015
PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
Images from the 2015 celebration of Oregon's great workplaces.
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER
As a general rule, the more people with autism can be provided with visual cues, the better they will be able to understand and manage their environment. It’s a lesson Tom Keating learned well. The 61-year-old Eugene grant writer spent 31 years taking care of his autistic brother James, and in the late 1980s developed a spreadsheet that created a series of nonsense characters that grew or shrank depending on how much money James had in his account.
Monday, March 02, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
Portland-based healthcare provider ZoomCare said it plans to “remake American healthcare” by expanding its on-demand urgent care model to emergency, surgery, dental and primary care, among others.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
BY GARY CONKLING | GUEST BLOGGER
Avoiding a crisis is a great way to burnish your reputation, increase brand loyalty and become a market leader.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Cycling to work is all the rage. But not everyone wants to arrive at the office messy, sweaty — and unfashionable.
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY KIM MOORE
A conversation with Martha Richards, executive director of the James F. & Marion L. Miller Foundation.
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A new report highlights how Oregon bankers are giving back to their communities.
Since 1932 Tidewater Transportation & Terminals (operating as Tidewater Barge Lines and Tidewater Terminal Company) has operated a multicommodity transportation and terminal company based in Vancouver, Washington. The friendly expression on the company’s shipping containers reflects the attitude of about 330 safety and community-conscious employees but belies how complicated the barge business really is.
The Port of The Dalles has run marine facilities since the 1930s, but they are part of a larger mission to strengthen the local economy. They focus on regional economic development with a strong bent toward adding good-paying jobs in high tech, manufacturing and other industries.
Thinking about an MBA? Join us for our upcoming Wine & Cheese Information Session to learn more about Concordia University's MBA program.
Providing attendees with unique taste of the Northwest Reception.
CFM Strategic Communications turns 25 this year and is celebrating with a revamped website, special events for firm alumni and clients, a special-label wine and a list of 25 stories about its client work over the past quarter century.