Highlights from New York


FIABCI meeting

Last week was the annual reception and meeting at the United Nations for members of FIABCI (the International Real Estate Federation). FIABCI maintains a Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN, the top ranking of any non-governmental organization.

In addition to being a networking event, we enjoyed a presentation by Michael P. Buckley on “Seven Transition Waves in the Midst of Crisis.” Mr. Buckley is the Director at Columbia University’s Center for High Density Development (CHDD). Two topics especially spoke to me:

1. Clustering – Cities that will thrive and lead in the 21st Century will be clusters of similar types of businesses. As Portland has built – and continues to build upon – its reputation for  being a center of green technology and industry, we will be a leading cluster in this arena. This bodes well for our future.

2. High Density Development – High density development is key to remaining a leading city in the 21st Century.  Mr. Buckley presented some CHDD-inspired case study scenarios for developments in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Harlem, New York City; Coney Island, New York City, among others. Here too, Portland is a leader. We’re fortunate to live in one of the few areas of the country with Urban Growth Boundaries, which maximize urban development and makes intermodal transportaion options more feasible.

United Nations Tour

We had an impressive tour of the United Nations and enjoyed some private remarks regarding the Global Housing Foundation (launched by FIABCI in 1999 in partnership with the UN). We take for granted our property rights in this country. However, it is estimated that one billion people live in slums. And worldwide, only 1% of property is owned by women.

From the GHF’s mission:

“Private-public partnerships like that of Global Housing Foundation are crucial to addressing and solving these catastrophic, imminent problems. For this reason, the United Nations, through its UN-HABITAT Human Settlements Program, has embraced Global Housing Foundation as a powerful model for slum-improvement programs. Global Housing Foundation is considered an official partner to the United Nations’ global housing efforts. In 2007 GHF teamed up with Merrill Lynch to create the world’s first international “Micro Mortgage” program.”

I look foward to learning more about the GHF,  and appreciate that FIABCI takes a leading role so that I may become involved. If you would like more information about any of the above, please contact me at steve@sagepacificliving.com, or call 503-490-4116.

Thank you for your business. Your support enables me to be active in groups that truly make a difference.

My top 10 for the week

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What I learned or reminded myself of this week:

  1. Meeting face to face is always better than online.
  2. When someone doesn’t get back to you timely, don’t assume they’re ignoring you.
  3. Shouldn’t a “public option” for healthcare be exactly what us free market types want? Competition!
  4. The weather is irrelevant to me.
  5. I need to get back to Nicaragua, then start exploring Costa Rica. Opportunity knocks.
  6. I miss my dog Moxy, but now it’s out of fondness and not painful.
  7. I just tried to look at her photo; I was wrong.
  8. This has been the hardest year in my real estate career and it’s still the career I enjoy most.
  9. I’m seeing many cars from MN and WI in my ‘hood. Is anyone left back there?
  10. If more nights per week are spent networking than exercising, networking is bad for your health.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Banks Making Short Sales Tougher

newlogoRealtor.org, October 9, 2009

Banks are backing away from short sales, forcing sellers to pay extra at closing or demanding a promissory note for the amount due. One-third of borrowers owe more on their mortgages than their properties are worth, according First American CoreLogic.

When their situations were really tough, most banks preferred short sales because they were their best opportunity to get the most money back. But with an improving economy, and because the losses on many of these properties have already been written off the books, banks are increasingly reluctant to negotiate a short sale.

Today, banks demand 9.5 weeks to respond to a short-sale request, compared to 4.5 weeks a year ago, according to research firm Campbell Communications. Their reluctance is frequently stymieing sales and frustrating real estate practitioners.

“It drives me up a wall,” says Robert G. Hertzog of Summit Home Consultants in Phoenix. “[The bank is] holding my client hostage.”

Source: BusinessWeek, Christopher Palmeri (10/09/2009)

The Weak Dollar = Strong Real Estate Opportunities


The weak U.S. Dollar is good news for foreign investors! Now foreign investors can buy more real estate for their same financial investment because of their increased purchasing power.  Even in comparatively strong residential markets like Portland, prices can be considerably lower than in competing cities. And with direct flights to major hubs like Tokyo and Amsterdam, access to Portland is convenient.

“U.S. real estate has always been a popular option for buyers around the globe,” said Tu Packard, senior economist for Moody’s Economy.com. “The appeal lies in the general stability of the country compared with others throughout the world.   Add to that the fact that the dollar is so weak and interest rates are low and house prices are at their lowest in years… it’s a compelling combination for a home buyer,” she said.  “The U.S. dollar’s trade rate is the weakest it has been since the 1970s,” she continued, as reported in a MarketWatch article written by Amy Hoak.

Strong investment opportunities exist in all sectors of the U.S. real estate market.  As always, real estate is a local business, so foreign investors will want to work with a U.S. real estate professional to best understand the various markets and the investment opportunities.

How can a foreign investor find the best U.S. real estate professional to meet their real estate needs? Through FIABCI, the International Real Estate Federation.

As a FIABCI member, I have access and contacts in 65 countries around the world and throughout the U.S. FIABCI members understand real estate and cultures around the world.  My clients make informed decisions about investments in my local market, nationally and internationally, based on my experience and the contacts I have developed through FIABCI’s diverse network of real estate professionals.

Please contact me whether you’re looking to invest in Portland or elsewhere. It all starts with an initial conversation and a plan.