6. Rent shoots up, up and away.
The crystal ball might be cloudy when it comes to home prices in Portland, but it doesn’t take Nostradamus to predict the future for Portland’s rental market: Rates are going up in 2008—by about 10 percent in the ’burbs and 15 percent in the city, according to Mark Barry, an apartment appraisal specialist.
We can hear the collective groan already—after all, 38 percent of Portlanders, or about 215,000 people, don’t own their homes. But before the grousing about greedy landlords begins, consider that Portland rents have been fairly static since 2003, when the average price for a two-bedroom apartment in the city was $680. According to a study by the California-based research firm Green Street Advisors, if Portland rents had kept pace with rising home values, renters would now be shelling out an average of $1,039 per month for that two-bedroom; instead, they’re paying about $790.
So the time is ripe for a rate adjustment. “Sure, we are capitalists,” says Tom Brenneke, president of Guardian Management, which has about 60 properties throughout the Portland metro area. “But we’ve also had to cover slowly rising utility costs and keep up with building manager salaries. And ever since 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, property insurance rates have skyrocketed.”
The fact that citywide vacancy rates are hovering at an all-time low of about 4 percent also gives landlords a bit of an upper hand. But there is one bonus to renting that isn’t going to change any time soon, even if rates continue to escalate: no yard work. —SW
7. Beautifying your home can save the planet.
With gas prices and global temperatures on the rise, the question isn’t whether to green your next home-building project, but how. In fact, the U.S. Green Building Council anticipates that green building spending will increase 500 percent to $60 billion by 2010. While hardcore enviromentalists are installing rooftop photovoltaic panels, you needn’t take such drastic measures. We turned to some of Portland’s leading green building experts for the top trends and found these four ways to upgrade your home while curbing environmental impact—and still saving money on energy bills. And with design improving all the time, there’s another reason to go green: sheer beauty. —Camela Raymond
STEP UP An “engineered floor”—basically, a veneer of hardwood glued to a layer of plywood underneath it—gives you the look of a traditional hardwood floor, but uses 60 percent less high-value wood. And some, like this EcoTimber one, use wood certified as “sustainable” by the Forest Stewardship Council.
GET IT: Green Source, 4530 SE Hawthorne Blvd; 503-239-2276
GLOW WITH IT Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) use about 70 percent less energy and last longer than standard incandescents, but they often jut inelegantly from older fixtures. So Portland’s Globe Lighting designed fixtures like this frosted-glass pendant to fit over them—a classic example of ingenuity and earth-friendly design.
GET IT: Globe Lighting, 1919 NW 19th Ave; 503-221-1919
COLOR ME GOOD Many paints—or tints used to color them—emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause everything from eye irritation to central nervous system damage. The 108 colors in AFM Safecoat’s Ayurveda Essence line come VOC-free, though.
GET IT: Ecohaus, 819 SE Taylor St; 503-222-3881
COUNTER INTELLIGENCE Sure, granite countertops are beautiful, but they’re also often strip-mined and shipped from quarries across the globe. Enter Fuez. The Sauvie Island company’s countertops are made from up to 80 percent post-consumer recycled materials like glass (collected curbside in Portland and Seattle) and cement.
GET IT: Fuez, 5736 N Greeley Ave; 503-289-7000