Green building questions answered

Did you know that Metro, the City of Portland, Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas Counties  jointly support a  Regional Green Building Hotline? Read more in Trace Salmon’s post on the King Neighborhood Association Blog.


“Good neighbors” eligible for HUD purchase program

Map of the USOf course we’ve heard about all the foreclosed properties out there. In Portland we’re just hitting the peak, with many more properties expected to be relinquished by homeowners this year. I’ve written here about REOs, foreclosed properties that revert to the bank to be sold or auctioned, sometimes at discount.

A certain number of these foreclosures occur with federally-insured or FHA mortgages. What happens in this case? Often HUD buys the property back from the bank that held the mortgage, in effect, making good on that federal guarantee. What happens to these HUD homes?

There’s a little-known HUD program called Good Neighbor Next Door (GNND), part of a series of federal initiatives designed to sell this inventory of federally-owned properties, promote sales in at-risk communities, and promote homeownership and neighborhood revitalization. GNND provides law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and teachers an opportunity to buy HUD-owned homes for 50% off their list price. 

Consumers and their realtors can visit the HUD site for more information about the Good Neighbor and other programs.  Or contact me to see whether you, or a good neighbor you know, qualifies.

Mortgage insurance deductibility safe in 2011

There is good news for homeowners with private mortgage insurance. The federal mortgage insurance tax-deductibility law has been extended through 2011, according to an announcement by the mortgage insurance company, PMI.

The law allows eligible borrowers–those with adjusted gross incomes up to $100,000– to deduct 100 % of their mortgage insurance premiums on their federal tax returns in 2011. The law was passed in 2007.  Before then borrowers could not take this deduction.

For borrowers with incomes between $100,000 and $109,000, deductions are phased out in 10% increments.

Citing the reason for the extension, PMI says, “Expanding homeownership has long been a goal of the federal government. The federal government helps make homeownership more affordable for many homebuyers by making mortgage insurance tax-deductible, and the extension of the law will benefit even more homeowners.”

It’s a small relief that can be added to the category, “Every Little Bit Counts.”

For more information, see Tax-Deductibility FAQs on PMI’s website.

Portland makes another “10 Best” list for 2011

Ladd's Addition Beauty

Ladd's Addition Beauty

Portland–the west coast  darling of the “Ten Best” lists–is mentioned again.

Mentioned in company with Austin, Durham and San Francisco, Aol.’s WalletPop named Portland the “Best City for Gen-Y” in their quirky December 31 article, 10 Best Places to Buy a Home in 2011

The article states that the median monthy rent in our fair city amounts to $1200. 

I did a little number crunching of my own which revealed that a new buyer, using an FHA loan and the Oregon Bond finance program at 3.87 percent,  with a $200K purchase price, would end up with a tax-deductible monthly payment (principle, interest, taxes and insurance) of $1186.

What the article fails to mention is that Portland’s median house price dropped to$239,900 in December, more than $100K below its peak of $354,740 in April ’07, according to

As one of the last major metropolitan areas to enter the nation-wide housing recession, Portland prices are just now bottoming-out. With short-sales comprising a third of all November transactions, there are plenty of bargains.  In addition, Portland offers many resources for those with little down. It’s no wonder the Rose City is being recognized as a great place for young people to get their start.