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Portland Real Estate Blog
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An increasing number of U.S. enclosed shopping malls are suffering from declining sales and closure of major retailers. Green Street Advisors, a real estate and REIT analytics firm, project that about 15% of U.S. malls will fail or be converted into non-retail space within the next 10 years. Another retail consultant projects that as many as half of America’s shopping malls will fail within the next 15 to 20 years. That projection is also fed by the fact that no major enclosed malls have been built since 2006.
Of the roughly 1,000 malls in the U.S., about 400 cater to upper-income shoppers. For these malls, business is improving. For the others, business is in decline. Several reasons include internet sales increases, shopper frustrations with gridlock to get to the mall, difficult parking, noisy interiors and increased kiosk sales with aggressive salespeople. Malls that seem to be successful have storefronts that shoppers can enter from the parking lot, for easier and quicker ingress and egress.
The successful malls are being enhanced/improved by the addition of housing adjacent or very close, additions of open, light “community” spaces with fountains and music, lots of restaurants, movie theaters, etc. These encourage a one-stop, multiple activity experience.
The unsuccessful malls are being converted to community colleges, business offices, and health care facilities.
We have a great example of this effort to enhance the shopping experience with what is happening in Bridgeport Shopping Mall, just off I-5 near Tualatin. It is refreshing to see retail owners who are being aggressive and planning a positive approach to maximize their investment by enhancing and improving the entire experience for their customers.
Source: Business Insider (Jan 31, 2014) and The New Yorker (Mar. 11, 2014)
Rate of same-sex housing discrimination studied
By Jo Becker, Education/Outreach Specialist, Fair Housing Council of Oregon
A HUD survey released in 2013 involving 6,833 tests in 50 different metropolitan areas found that same-sex couples were over 15% more likely to experience discrimination than heterosexual couples.
Sexual orientation and gender identity are not, as of yet, covered by the federal Fair Housing Act, but they are protected under state law in Oregon.
Shanna Smith of the National Fair Housing Alliance responded to the study by saying, “This study serves as evidence that there is a dire need to include protections for the LGBT community in the federal Fair Housing Act. More enforcement of these laws is also necessary as discrimination continues at high rates even in states that have these protections for the LGBT community. The HUD study is groundbreaking in both its scope and magnitude. While the discrimination statistics are no surprise, the study itself was a crucial first step that needed to be taken to better understand the extent of housing discrimination.”
In another report released a year earlier, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) found that multi-year trends in anti-LGBTQ hate violence and homicides continue. In fact, 2012 had the distinction of having the fourth highest yearly total of anti-LGBTQ violence ever recorded. The report details that transgender women, people of color, and gay men face the most severe violence.
For more information about fair housing visit: www.FHCO.org/sexualorient.htm. Here we offer a variety of tools – such as the Self-Assessment Compliance Checklist and Suggested Best Practices for Various Housing Transactions created by our colleagues at the Washington State Human Rights Commission – as well as a myriad of assessments and statements from HUD on the issues, as well as other relevant resources.
If you or someone you know suspects their civil rights in housing have been violated, please contact our free and confidential Fair Housing Hotline today at 800/424-3247 ext. 2.
This article brought to you by the Fair Housing Council; a civil rights organization. All rights reserved © 2014. Write jbecker@FHCO.org to reprint articles or inquire about ongoing content for your own publication.
What is smoke-free housing? It is a rental property where smoking is not allowed or is only allowed in designated smoking areas. You can specify what part of the property is smoke-free: the apartments, the common areas, or all the property.
Why would a landlord make his/her property smoke-free? Many landlords report that prohibiting smoking attracts quality tenants and saves the landlords money, as inside smoke causes damage like carpet, vinyl and countertop burns. Smoking also can cause extra cleaning costs – on the grounds, nicotine stains on interior walls, and more frequent shampooing of carpets.
Is it legal to have a smoke-free property? Actually the state of Oregon requires a rental property owner to have a smoking policy – so all tenants know whether or not smoking is allowed, and if it is allowed, where it is allowed.
Do tenants accept the smoke-free concept? One recent survey of renters in Portland found that three-quarters of those surveyed agreed that “all other things being equal” they would chose a smoke-free property to live in. Over half said they would even pay extra to live in such housing.
From a landlord perspective, it might be worth checking with your insurance company, to see if there might be any cost-savings for the landlord by implementing a smoke-free policy.
Source: Rental Housing Association of Greater Portland, February, 2014
This information is from sources deemed to be reliable, but must be verified with ones’ own legal, accounting and tax professionals.
I'm often asked if this is a good time to buy a home. Some clients are concerned that home prices may fall down the road, while others are convinced that home prices will go up.
Home prices are one factor in determining your cost of ownership, but so are interest rates and financing availability. Even though interest rates have fluctuated, they are still near historic lows. Since your monthly mortgage payment is a combination of paying down your principal and paying the interest owed, a one point rise in interest rates could cost tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage!
While a home is a major investment, it is also the center of your personal life. It's important to live in a home that reflects your taste and values, yet is within your financial "comfort zone." To that end, it may be more important to lock in today's relatively low interest rates while they are still available.
Please give me a call if I can be of any assistance in determining how much home you can afford in today's market.