Monday, December 30, 2019

Eudaly Won't Support Residential Infill without Added Tenant Protections

The Willamette Week reports that Commissioner Chloe Eudaly will not support the Residential Infill Project (RIP) without additional tenant protections. RIP would allow up to four units to be built on single family lots (or 6 when affordable housing is included). Eudaly is pushing the city council to pass a law giving tenants the opportunity to purchase a property, or exercise first right of refusal. She is also calling for the city to allocate funding to finance ADUs. Read more.

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - December 30, 2019

A round-up of the affordable housing positions of some of the US Democratic Presidential candidates is featured.

Listen to our latest podcast.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - December 23, 2019

Three landlord members of Portland's Rental Services Commission quit due to renter advocate's hostility; Washington State Legislature likely to consider more tenant protections in 2020; the U.S. Supreme Court decides it's ok for the homeless to sleep outside when there are not enough shelter beds available.

Listen to our latest podcast.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Survey: Portland Renters Face Discrimination when Applying for Housing

Nonprofit organization Fair Housing Council of Oregon conducted a study using actors posing as prospective tenants between January 2018 and June 2019, and found that in 26 out of 94 test cases, potential renters received disparate treatment due to race, nationality, or income source. Despite laws in Oregon outlawing income source discrimination, Section 8 voucher holders were told their vouchers would not be accepted, or were required to pay higher security deposits than prospective renters without vouchers. Similarly, Black renters were not told about the same promotions as white renters, who were offered bigger discounts. The nonprofit recommends providing landlords with more training to ensure renters are treated equally. Read more.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

When Scammers Pose as Landlords, Things Go Sideways

A woman who thought she had rented a home in North Bethany in Washington County was scammed out of $3,000 and told by police she was trespassing after using a service called Rently. KATU reports.

Multifamily NW, Tenant Landlord Attorney Leah Sykes Resign from City's Rental Services Commission

Multifamily NW Executive Director Deborah Imse and landlord attorney Leah Sykes of the Greenspoon Marder firm have resigned from the City of Portland's Rental Services Commission. In her resignation letter, Imse called for Syke's treatment by renter advocate Margot Black at the group's November 19th meeting to be formally reviewed. Read more. 

Tenant Advocates Prep for Next Push in Washington Legislature

The Bellevue Reporter quotes legislator Patty Kuderer as declaring at least two bills will be filed this year in Olympia surrounding tenant protections. Those would include a just cause law standardizing criteria for evictions statewide, and a second bill making technical changes to SB 5600 and the ways in which landlords can be reimbursed by the state for tenants who fail to pay rent. Read more.

UN Climate Report: End Apartment Bans to Save the Planet

Local bans on attached homes in cities are driving up energy use and helping cook the climate, the United Nations Environment Program wrote in a report published November 26th.

According to the sightline institute in its review of key report findings, millions of Americans would happily reduce their own carbon emissions by living smaller and closer in, with nicely insulated new windows and nice thick walls, if only local zoning allowed it.

Washington Legislature Could Consider Lifting Rent Control Ban, Eliminating No Cause Evictions in 2020

A number of Washington legislators are working on plans to improve tenant protections across the state. Representative Nicole Macri is prioritizing a bill to eliminate no-cause evictions, but believes there is "energy" in the legislature that could allow them to pass anti-gouging legislation that would cap rents at 5-7% plus inflation. In Washington, landlord can issue no cause evictions with just 20 days' notice, though in some cities like Seattle, Burien, and Federal Way there are additional renter protections. Along with Macri, Representative Frank Chopp has signaled his support for lifting the ban on rent control, but Senator Patty Kuderer believes the state should wait and see the impacts of rent control in California, New York, and Oregon. Read more.

Better Housing by Design Approved by Portland City Council

Better Housing by Design was approved Wednesday with a 3-1 vote by the Portland City Council. Commissioner Fish was absent due to health issues, and Commissioner Fritz cast the lone vote against adopting the guidelines. Better Housing by Design changes design standards for multifamily housing to allow for a broader range of unit types. It also strengthens standards for green spaces and reduces parking requirements. Additional details about the project can be found here.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Boise Case on Prosecution for Homeless Camping

The Supreme Court declined on Monday morning to hear an appeal brought by the city of Boise over a decision by the 9th Circuit that struck down a law against homeless camping. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that Boise's law amounted to cruel and unusual punishment because the city does not have enough beds to serve its homeless population. Los Angeles City Attorney Michael Feuer had urged the Supreme Court to hear the case in order to provide clarity to city officials. Feuer believes that the 9th Circuit's ruling leaves a grey area for law enforcement when a homeless resident refuses to move off of the street and into a shelter when a bed is available. Because the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal, the 9th Circuit's ruling will stand. Read more.

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - December 16, 2019

A Seattle City Council member proposes a ban on residential evictions during winter months; a recently built mixed-use development designed by the City of Portland faces increasing criticism as storefronts remain empty two years after opening, and a state of Oregon poll finds that residents believe their financial prospects will continue to improve.

Listen to our latest podcast.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Portland Narrows Definition of "Retailer" for Clean Energy Tax

The Portland City Council voted to narrow the definition of "retailer" as it pertains to the city's Clean Energy tax. Mayor Wheeler and the three commissioners present at the meeting  voted to exempt construction companies, residential garbage services, and some retirement plans from having to pay the 1% surcharge on annual sales. Commissioner Nick Fish was absent. The city has lowered its revenue expectation by $10 million due to the code change. Read more.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Cascadia Region Has Too Many Large Housing Units

According to the Sightline Institute, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia have significantly more homes with at least three bedrooms than there are families with three or more people. While recently cities have focused on building family-sized units due to a perceived oversupply of studios and one-bedrooms, homes in major metro areas may still be trending too large. In Portland, 49% of homes have at least three bedrooms, but only 34% of households have three or more residents. In Seattle, 38% of homes have at least three bedrooms while only 26% of households have at least three residents. Michael Anderson argues that this mismatch can be attributed to zoning laws that restrict where smaller homes can be built, making it difficult for households to downsize. While newer construction does tend to consist of smaller units, it appears that may be due to demand from smaller households. One- to two-person households account for 59% of the Portland area's housing growth since 2005. Anderson argues that addressing the oversupply of large homes will help free up some of those homes for larger families that do need them, but have been priced out. Read more.

New Oregon Law on Applicant Screening Fees Takes Effect January 1, 2020

Multifamily NW, the law firm of Greenspoon Marder and HFO Investment Real Estate would like to remind owners of multifamily properties in Oregon of the following new law, effective January 1, 2020. 

Beginning January 1, 2020, there are changes to Oregon Revised Statutes 90.295 relating to charging applicant screening fees.

The law now states: “A landlord may only require an applicant to pay a single applicant screening charge within any 60 day period, regardless of the number of rental units owned or managed by the landlord for which the applicant has applied to rent.”

Although this may be simple for landlords using only one set of screening criteria for all of their properties, it is much more complex for landlords with multiple screening criteria, especially when managing affordable housing. It also poses challenges for larger landlords managing many portfolios with applicants submitting applications at multiple sites. In those instances, we advise a company-wide system to allow for monitoring applications from various sources.

Additionally, rules governing screening charge refunds were clarified and are consistent with general industry practices. Landlords must refund applicant screening charges within a “reasonable time” if the landlord fills the vacant unit before screening the applicant or doesn’t screen the applicant. Landlords utilizing waitlists should refrain from processing screening charges until the applicant is the next available person on the waitlist.

Damages for failure to comply with this section are twice the amount paid by the applicant, plus $150. If you have any questions about your specific situation, please make sure you speak to an attorney to stay in compliance with this regulation.

Study: Rent Control Will Restrict Apartment Development, Resulting in Lower Tax Revenue for Cities

Recent findings by the National Apartment Association (NAA) reveal rent control’s potential effects on four major U.S. cities, including Portland and Seattle.

NAA’s analysis shows that these policies decrease the housing supply, harm the condition of existing housing stock and lower property values, which leads to lower tax revenues. These policies ultimately limit job growth and negatively affect local economies.

Read the summary.

Read and download the full 9-page report.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant proposes ban on residential evictions during winter

The Seattle Times reports that the councilmember's legislation would prohibit evictions from November 1 through March 31, regardless of the circumstances. She plans to bring her proposed city ordinance to the full council by the end of January, 2020. Read more. 

Olympia Landlords Say Proposed Renter Protections May Increase Rents

Landlords in Olympia and surrounding areas of Thurston County are complaining about the impacts of proposed changes to landlord/tenant laws by local governments. Read more.  

Monday, December 9, 2019

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - December 9, 2019

This week: Portland developers could be required to provide public space with room for tents under new design guidelines; a 13-year-old 100-unit apartment building owned by the City of Portland evacuated 22 tenants fearing potential roof collapse, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper recently visited the Emerald City for a special report on homelessness.

Listen to our latest podcast.

Friday, December 6, 2019

PSC Narrowly Votes to Require Developers Build Space for Tents in New Design Guidelines

The Willamette Week reports that a narrow majority of Portland’s Planning and Sustainability Commission voted to approve a last-minute amendment to new design guidelines. The amendment changes language around outdoor space requirements for new developments – in addition to providing “opportunities to pause, sit and interact,” if the new guidelines are adopted developers will also be required to provide space where people can “rest and be welcome.” The change was proposed by Commissioner Oriana Magnera, who argued that there are people who need to rest on a “longer-term scale,” and that the benches provided by many developers outside of their buildings are not adequate for people who need or want to pitch a tent. The commission voted 5-4 to adopt the new language. The Commission plans to send its recommendations to the Design Commission December 17th – the Design Commission will then vote on a final set of recommendations that will be sent to the City Council. Read more.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Multifamily Development Trends in Portland, Oregon with HFO Senior Broker Lee Fehrenbacher

HFO Senior Broker Lee Fehrenbacher talks with partner Greg Frick about current trends in apartment development and construction. Lee focuses on the sales of new multifamily assets along with development parcels.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

An Update on the Multifamily Market on Portland, Oregon's Eastside with Senior Broker Jack Stephens

ack Stephens is a Senior Broker at HFO Investment Real Estate focusing on serving multifamily owners on the East side of Portland, Oregon's metro area.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Entire Floor of Tenants Forced to Relocate from City-Owned Apartment Building

Officials from the City of Portland instructed all 4th floor tenants at the Headwaters Apartment on SW 30th Avenue to vacate their units by Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, due to a deteriorating and leaky roof. Headwaters is an affordable housing complex built in 2007. The city has offered to pay for hotel rooms for residents until they are able to find housing - officials estimate that the residents will not be able to move back into their units for up to 11 months. While the KOIN 6 report on the evictions suggests that the city has offered to pay moving costs, the building is exempt from the city's relocation fee ordinance because it is certified low income housing. Read more.

Special Edition Marketwatch Podcast December 2, 2019

Portland, Oregon's robust 2019 economy and the forecast for 2020 is discussed in this podcast with local expert Christian Kaylor of the Oregon Employment Department. 

Listen to our latest podcast.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

How Does an Oregon Landlord Issue No-Cause Terminations for Repairs and Renovations Under SB 608?

Attorney Brad Kraus discusses the landlord's ability to issue no-cause terminations for qualifying repairs and renovations under SB 608.

Monday, November 25, 2019

HFO Marketing Director Named Chair of New Local Nonprofit Working to Build Trust Between Community, Police

The board of the new nonprofit Face to Face Portland has elected HFO Marketing Director Aaron Kirk Douglas as its chair. Face to Face is actively working to build trust between Portland police and the community. Its most vital program matches new officers to local volunteer families who support the integration of officers into the fabric of Portland. Visit to learn more or to get involved.

Douglas has been marketing director for HFO Investment Real Estate since 2006. In his 14 years at HFO, Douglas has directed the launch of educational events, a video channel, a blog, and weekly podcasts covering news of interest to Oregon and Washington apartment investors. 

Douglas has served on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Hollywood Theatre, among others. He is the author of Growing Up Twice: Shaping a Future by Reliving My Past, recounting his life-changing experience as a Big Brother mentor.

HFO has consistently been recognized as one of the most philanthropic companies in Portland and congratulates Aaron on his achievement.

An Update on Portland, Oregon's Economy and 2020 Forecast with State of Oregon Analyst Christian Kaylor

Portland, Oregon's robust 2019 economy and the forecast for 2020 is discussed in this video with local expert Christian Kaylor of the Oregon Employment Department. Since 2005, Portland's median household income has grown by 34%. Portland's median household income is now the eighth highest in the country with a median household income of $73,100.

Houston, We Have A Solution: How Houston is Curbing Homelessness

Last week, The Christian Science Monitor reported on how Houston, TX has been successful at curbing homelessness.
"Numerous studies have backed the effectiveness of a housing-first approach since cities began adopting it in the 1990s. One 2015 study found that over a 24-month period, people who participated in housing-first programs in four Canadian cities had stable housing 63% to 77% of the time, compared with 24% to 32% for people who received more traditional care.
"There is also a cost argument for housing first. Chronic homelessness costs the public $30,000 to $50,000 per person per year, compared with $20,000 per person for supportive housing, according to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness."

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - November 25, 2019

Portland government pays $350 thousand in attorneys fees to unreinforced masonry owners for their successful legal challenge against the city; a professor argues that residential infill will only succeed if homeowners are good at being landlords and the Seattle Times reports that despite much fanfare in 2017, Seattle's BLOCK project has built only 9 backyard ADUs for homeless residents.

Listen to our latest podcast.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Prof. Ethan Seltzer: City Should Do More to Support New Landlords

Ethan Seltzer, Emeritus Professor in  the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at PSU, wrote guest commentary in the City Observatory blog this week calling on the City of Portland to do more to support the new, small landlords who will be necessary once the Residential Infill Project is implemented. RIP is expected to increase the number of lots with multiple units substantially over the next few years, and many of these new units will be rentals. But Portland and the State of Oregon have implemented policies recently that make it more difficult for landlords to operate. Seltzer argues that while larger landlords may be able to hire lawyers or raise rents to cover costs, smaller landlords who own fewer than 4 units may avoid the risk by renting their units through AirBnB, or solely to friends and family. He suggests the city could negotiate supportive lease agreements for smaller landlords, or create neighborhood groups that could act as management associations. Read more.

For more information on the multifamily market and PSU's Real Estate Program, be sure to watch Greg Frick's interview with Dr. Gerard Mildner. You can find this interview and more on our website, or on Youtube.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - November 18, 2019

This week: after declining 80% in the recession, homebuilding finally rebounds; the cities of Lake Oswego and West Linn try to find ways around a new state law requiring multiple housing units, and the Washington State Supreme Court upholds one of Seattle’s latest housing laws.

Listen to our latest podcast.

Portland-Area Rents Mostly Flat Month-over-Month, but Milwaukie Is Still Seeing Strong Growth

According to RentCafe's October rent report, Portland area rents were mostly flat month-over-month, though they still outpaced nationwide averages. The national average was up 0.1% in October, reaching $1,476 per month. In the City of Portland, rents were up 0.5%. Milwaukie's rent growth between September and October far outpaced the rest of the metro area, with an increase of 1.2%. Gresham and Tigard saw rents go up 0.6%. Outside of the Portland metro area, Springfield and Bend saw rent increases of 0.9%, while Albany rents increased by 0.7%. Read more.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Washington Supreme Court Upholds Seattle's First-Come, First Served Law

The Washington Supreme Court published an opinion today overturning a lower court's decision to strike down a Seattle law that requires landlords to process tenant applications on a first-come, first-served basis. The landlords who brought the case said the law amounted to a regulatory taking of private property, because choosing a tenant is a "fundamental attribute of property ownership." Justice May Yu wrote in the Supreme Court decision that while the law was an experiment, it is allowed under the state's constitution. The FAIR law recently passed by the Portland City Council contains a similar requirement that landlords process applications on a first-come, first-served basis. Read more.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Portland City Council Votes Unanimously to Expand Deconstruction Rules

The Portland City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to require deconstruction rather than demolition for homes that were built in 1940 or earlier. Historically designated homes are also subject to the new rule, regardless of vintage. Since 2016, a similar rule has been in effect for buildings built in 1916 or earlier. Read more.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Seattle Adopts New Tenant Protections

Seattle recently passed legislation requiring changes to the notices served to tenants. The changes took effect on November 3, 2019, for all properties inside the city limits.

Read more here.

Monday, November 11, 2019

City Council Finishes Public Hearing on Better Housing by Design; Written Testimony Accepted Through Nov. 21st

A Notice from the City of Portland:

Better Housing by Design E-UPDATE: November 8, 2019

City Council finishes public hearing on Better Housing by Design proposals – will consider amendments on November 21

City Council finished hearing public testimony on the Better Housing by Design Recommended Draft on Wednesday, November 6, 2019. The public hearing started at 2 p.m. and lasted until 5 p.m. 42 people provided testimony during the three-hour hearing. Much of the testimony was on draft amendments requested by City commissioners. A lot of testimony was about whether or not to limit development bonuses for affordable housing based on transit access. There was also a lot of testimony regarding parking exemptions for affordable housing, and a broad range of perspectives were shared on proposals related to historic preservation.

If you missed this hearing, you can view a video of the hearing here. In total, community members have contributed over 250 pieces of written or verbal testimony on the Better Housing by Design proposals.

Written testimony will continue to be accepted through November 21, 2019. You can provide testimony on the broader Recommended Draft proposals, as well as on the draft amendments. Please see below for information on how to submit testimony.

Next Up – Amendments

City Council will discuss and vote on potential amendments to the Recommended Draft on November 21, 2019, starting at 3:45 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall. The amendments they will consider include those previously requested by commissioners (see below), as well as any new amendment requests that may emerge from commissioners’ consideration of recent public testimony. Any revisions to the list of draft amendments will be posted online prior to the November 21 session. The public is welcome to attend the November 21 City Council session on the amendments, although this will not be a public hearing.

Learn about the draft amendments

  • A table summarizing the draft amendments requested by commissioners (as of November 5) can be found here.
  • The full amendments package with complete code language and commentary is here.
  • Updates to the list of potential BHD amendments will be posted here: 

These potential BHD amendments include:

  • Amendments to the Deeper Housing Affordability Bonus to provide options for affordable ownership housing.
  • Expanded exemptions from minimum parking requirements for projects providing affordable housing.
  • Limitations on using development bonuses on sites where historic buildings have been demolished in the multi-dwelling and mixed-use zones.
  • Prohibitions on using development bonuses on sites more than a 1,500-foot walking distance of frequent-service transit.
  • Disallowing 100-foot building height in the RM4 zone in historic districts.
  • Requirements for large sites to include indoor common areas, such as community or recreation rooms.
  • Zone changes in the King’s Hill Historic District to reduce allowed building scale.

How to Testify

Written testimony will continue to be accepted through November 21, 2019 (you must include your name and address):

Use the Map App:
Select Better Housing by Design and click on the "Testify" button. Testifying in the Map App is as easy as sending an email. And once you press “submit,” you can see your testimony in the Testimony Reader in real time. You can also read other people’s testimony.

By U.S. Mail:
City Council
Better Housing by Design Testimony
1221 SW Fourth Avenue, Room 130
Portland, Oregon 97204

Links to Recommended Draft documents:
Recommended Draft Summary - Short summary of the Recommended Draft’s major proposals
Volume 1: Staff Report - Summary and analysis of Recommended Draft Zoning Code and Map amendments
Volume 2: Zoning Code Amendments – Recommended Draft Zoning Code and Comprehensive Plan full text and commentary
Volume 3: Additional Zoning Code Amendments – Zoning Code amendments updating other chapters for consistency

Citywide maps showing the Recommended Draft Zoning Map and Comprehensive Plan Map can be viewed here:
Map of Recommended Draft Zoning
Map of Recommended Draft Comprehensive Plan Designations 

Learn about how the Recommended Draft multi-dwelling zoning changes will affect specific properties by using the online Map App:
Select Better Housing by Design and enter an address to learn about the proposed zoning for a property.

You can find all the Recommended Draft material online at: 
Draft BHD amendments material: 

For more information 

Project website:
Bill Cunningham, Project Manager, 503-823-4203

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is committed to providing meaningful access. For accommodations, modifications, translation, interpretation or other services, please call 503-823-7700 or use City TTY 503-823-6868, or Oregon Relay Service 711. 503-823-7700.

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - November 11, 2019

Developers in Portland may be required to deconstruct homes built before 1940; Senator Ron Wyden introduces legislation that would make changes to opportunity zones; political action spending in Spokane comes under fire.  

Listen to our latest podcast.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Portland Housing Bureau Sets Public Hearing for Thursday 11/7 on Rental Screening/Deposit Administrative Rules

The following information was received today from
the Portland Housing Bureau for rules slated to take effect March 1, 2020.

The Portland Housing Bureau is releasing two sets of Administrative Rules:

  • Rental Housing Application and Screening Process establishes rules for PCC 30.01.086
  • Rental Housing Security Deposit Process establishes rules for PCC 30.01.087

These two sets of rules provide additional clarity to the public on the implementation of the FAIR ordinances and create forms and notices required by the ordinances. The public is invited to testify on both proposed drafts. Drafts of the proposed changes, as well as notices and meeting information, can be found at

Paper copies are available at the Portland Housing Bureau at 421 SW 6th Ave, Suite 500.
Submitting Testimony

You can submit testimony or feedback on the drafts. Testimony may be submitted via email, fax, letter, or in person at a public hearing. Written comments or testimony must be received by December 4, 2019 and must include a first and last name to be considered. 

  • Email your testimony to
  • Fax your testimony to 503-823-2387 
  • Mail your testimony to PHB c/o FAIR Rules 421 SW 6th Avenue Suite 500 Portland, OR 97204
  • Testify in person at the public hearing: Thursday, November 7, 2019, from 3-5 pm at the Portland Housing Bureau - 421 SW 6th Avenue, #500, Portland, OR 97204
To request translation services at the hearing, email at least three business days prior to the hearing. If you have questions regarding the proposed rule changes or the rulemaking process, please contact the FAIR Rules Coordinator: Andrés Oswill at

Monday, November 4, 2019

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - November 4, 2019

This week: the Federal Reserve and interest rates; Oregon and Washington politicians promise to work together on the Interstate Bridge project and a new government report on climate change and real estate.

Listen to our latest podcast.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Fed Cuts Interest Rates for Third Time in 2019

The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it will be cutting the benchmark interest rate to a range of 1.5%-1.75%. This is the third rate cut in 2019, and the ninth since 2015. Unlike earlier this year, Chairman Jerome Powell's statement indicated that the Fed is unlikely to cut rates further in the near term. Powell stated, "We see the current stance of policy as likely to remain appropriate as long as incoming information about the state of the economy remains broadly consistent with our outlook." Read more.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

U.S. Census Releases Rental Vacancy Rates for Q3 2019: Seattle ranks 10th, Portland 11th Lowest

Greater Seattle has the nation's 6th lowest rental vacancy rate while Portland ties for 11th with two other U.S. metro areas.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the third-quarter 2019 rental vacancy rate for the Portland/ Vancouver/ Hillsboro metro area was 4.7%, an increase of 0.2% from one year earlier. This is close to the recently released Multifamily NW fall survey of nearly 62,000 area apartment units which pegged area vacancies at 4.4%.

Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue's metro area vacancy rate was listed at 4.6%, down 0.7% from a year ago.

The nation's lowest rental vacancy rates, by metro area:
  1. Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ - 0.0%
  2. Worcester, MA - 1.1%
  3. Minneapolis-St Paul - Bloomington, MN-WI - 2.0%
  4. Buffalo-Niagra Falls, NY , and Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI - 2.8%
  5. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA - 3.3%
  6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA - 3.7%
  7. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA - 3.9%
  8. Akron, OH - 4.0%
  9. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA - and Toledo, OH - 4.3%
  10. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA - 4.6%
  11. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA / Jacksonville, FL / Bridgeport-Norwalk, CT - 4.7%
Average National Rental Vacancy Rate

The average national rental vacancy rate for Q3 2019 was 6.8 percent for multifamily dwellings of five or more units -- down from 7.1% one year earlier, despite continuous delivery of multifamily units throughout the national market.

Year-over-year vacancy rates in the Western U.S. decreased, from 5.1% to 4.8%.

Click to Enlarge

U.S. Homeownership Rate Falls
After falling to a 26-year low in 2016, the homeownership rate has rebounded and has increased slightly over the past year to 64.8%. Homeownership in the West has also increased from 60.2% in Q3 2018 to 60.6% in September 2019.
Click to Enlarge

Monday, October 28, 2019

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - October 28, 2019

This week: the City of Portland repeals its placard and tenant notification requirements for unreinforced masonry buildings; real estate and construction professionals in the pacific northwest questioned in a recent survey were concerned over environmental regulation, affordable housing, and rent control. And it turns out that the exodus of residents from California may not be wealthy retirees after all.  

Listen to our latest podcast.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Portland City Council Repeals URM Placards, Convenes Committee to Reduce Seismic Risks

The Portland City Council voted yesterday 4-0 to repeal the placarding and tenant notification requirements for unreinforced masonry buildings. Mayor Wheeler was not present for the vote because he is visiting Portland's sister city in Japan. The Council also created a new task force that will be charged with finding ways to reduce life safety risks and displacement in the event of an earthquake. The committee will be comprised of two subcommittees, one to study solutions for nonprofits and faith organizations, and the other to find solutions geared toward private owners. The handful of people who testified at the hearing praised the city's decision to repeal the placarding requirement, but expressed concerns over a breakdown in communication between city officials and building owners. Read more.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

ULI Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2020 Breakfast in Portland

At the ULI Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2020 breakfast in Portland this morning, local experts discussed the strengths and weaknesses in the Portland market, as well as what the region should be working toward in the next few years.

Keynote speaker Andy Warren, Director of Real Estate Research at PwC, emphasized that the differences between the top 20 metro areas for real estate investment are shrinking. This year, Portland was ranked 20th on the list, while Seattle was 10th. Denver dropped from 10th place last year to 17th this year. Warren commented on the rising phenomenon of "hipsturbia," or millennial hipsters moving to suburbs while expecting walkable urban amenities like bars, breweries, and flexible work spaces. He also emphasized that cities that have invested in infrastructure are the most attractive to investors. According to the Emerging Trends in Real Estate survey, 81% of real estate professionals cite transportation as the most important infrastructure investment a city can make.

Following Warren's presentation, Matt Miller of Greater Portland Inc. moderated a panel featuring Warren, Expensify Founder David Barrett, Bridge Economic Development President Alisa Pyszka, and Eastdil Secured Senior Vice President Mark Washington. The panel discussed Portland's strengths and weaknesses, as well as what the city will need to do in the future to foster economic growth.

Barrett recently moved his company from San Francisco to Portland, which he said was primarily a lifestyle decision. He did not look at school districts or taxes, but instead was drawn to Portland because of the character of its neighborhoods, and its proximity to wine country and outdoor recreation. He urged the developers and planners in the audience not to imitate San Francisco's pattern of development in which urban campuses close themselves off and shut out the local community.

Other panelists, including Alisa Pyszka, emphasized that Portland needs to work on growing its economy from within and focusing on educational opportunities that rely less and bringing in talent from other cities. They also discussed the "trailing spouse" factor - if people move here for job opportunities, will their spouses also be able to find jobs in their field that will keep them in the region?

In terms of barriers to entry and feasibility, the panelists agreed that while local investors may feel that the political and regulatory environment in Portland makes investment and development difficult, investors from larger cities tend to view the city as a relatively untapped market that presents an opportunity for creative options. This was borne out in the survey, which ranked Portland as the #1 city for investment opportunities.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - October 21, 2019

A report finds that rents in most Portland area cities are flat or declining while those in the valley and Eugene are increasing; the Portland water bureau is building a corrosion control facility to reduce the possibility of lead in the city's water supply, and a recent study finds that proximity to transit can increase property values.

Listen to our latest podcast.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

City of Portland Upcoming Workshops for Multifamily Owners on Rental Screening and Other Laws

The Rental Services Offices of the City of Portland is offering a traveling helpdesk for landlords with questions about their rights and obligations under the Portland City Code, including the new rental screening ordinance and security deposit regulations that will take effect in March of 2020.

The traveling helpdesk is available to provide technical/non-legal assistance on Saturdays at the Multnomah County Library branches and dates listed below:

October 2019
19th - Capitol Hill 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
19th - Belmont - 2:30-3:30 pm

November 2019
2nd - Holgate 10:30 am - 12 pm
2nd - Gregory Heights 1-3 pm
9th - Midland 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
9th - St. Johns 2-4 pm
16th - Capitol Hill 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
16th - Hollywood 1:30-3 pm

December 2019
7th - Holgate 10:30 am - 12 pm
7th - Gregory Heights 1-3 pm
14th - Midland 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
14th - St. Johns 2-4 pm
21st - Capitol Hill 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
21st - Belmont 2-3:30 pm

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Portland Metro Area Rents Decreased in September, but Rents in the Valley Are Picking Up

RentCafe released its rent report for September 2019 - while many Portland metro area cities have seen slight decreases month over month, rents in the Willamette Valley and along the southern part of the I-5 corridor are beginning to increase. In Springfield, just outside of Eugene, rents were up 1% month over month, while in Keizer and Salem they were up 0.7% and 0.4% respectively. While Tualatin's rents decreased by 2.9% in September, year over year the Washington County city had the highest rent increase at 7.3%. Nationwide, rents decreased by 0.1% month over month in September. Lake Oswego still boasts the highest rents in the state, but rents there decreased 3.4% last month. Read more.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - October 14, 2019

This week: Under orders from a Federal Judge, the Portland City Council will have a public hearing October 23 on the court's mandated rollback of its ordinance requiring placards on unreinforced masonry buildings; and the Supreme Court is deciding whether to hear a case challenging the legality of inclusionary zoning.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Washington Multifamily Housing Association Releases 2019 Legislative Summary

The Washington Multifamily Housing Association has released its summary of 2019 legislative activity for Washington State. Read and download the report here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

City Council to Consider Repealing URM Placard Requirement October 23rd

The Portland Tribune reports that the Portland City Council plans to consider repealing the URM placarding requirement at a meeting on October 23rd. According to lawyer John DiLorenzo, the City has agreed to repeal the requirement in order to settle the law suit brought by owners of URM buildings. Along with the placarding requirement, the City may also choose to repeal the requirement for landlords to include warnings regarding earthquake safety on tenant lease agreements. Read more.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Multifamily Marketwatch - October 7, 2019

This week: CoStar reports that multifamily investment has picked up again after a brief slowdown following the implementation of statewide rent control; Sightline Institute researcher Michael Anderson warns that Portland's Better Housing by Design initiative could be held back by parking requirements; and startups are aiming to disrupt security deposits by requiring less money upfront from tenants and providing insurance to landlords.

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Monday, September 30, 2019

HFO-TV: Federal Judge Orders Mayor Wheeler, Commissioner Hardesty to Appear in Court if Council Fails to Comply

U.S. Federal Judge John Acosta has already ordered the City of Portland to pay the legal fees of unreinforced masonry (URM) owners for the battle over placard signage of URM buildings. In a hearing on September 17, the Judge scheduled in-person court dates for October 24th and 31st to ensure that the Portland City Council holds a hearing and a vote on its repeal of the placard ordinances on October 23rd and 30th, respectively. The Judge indicated that if the City Council fails to abide by the City Attorney's promises to the Court, he will require Mayor Wheeler and Commissioner Hardesty to personally appear before the Court to explain the failure to comply.

City of Portland Better Housing by Design plan for Apartment Buildings - Public Hearing Oct. 2, 3 pm

The City of Portland's Bureau of Housing Development is updating the rules to improve design and livability of new development. The recommended draft of the Better Housing by Design plan is now availalable and serves as the Planning and Sustainability Commission's recommendation to City Council.

The Better Housing by Design project is part of a broader Housing Opportunities Initiative that includes the residential infill project and a new anti-displacement action plan effort. 

The public hearing is scheduled for 3 pm on Wednesday, October 2nd at Portland City Hall. Three hours have been allotted for the hearing. Discussion and vote will take place at a subsequent council meeting.

Want to comment but can't make the hearing? 
Testimony may be submitted online through October 2nd using the online map app.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Allowable Rent Increase in Oregon for 2020 Will Be Lower than 2019

The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis posted the allowable rent increase for 2020 under the new statewide rent control law. HB 608, which passed earlier this year, limits rent increases to 7% plus CPI (All Urban Consumers, West Region). In 2019, the total rent increase allowed in Oregon under the new state law was 10.3%. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, CPI has decreased from 3.3% to 2.9%. As a result, the allowable rent increase for 2020 is 9.9%. Read more.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Washington Post Editorial Board: Populists Are Wrong, Rent Control Does Not Help Cost-Burdened Renters

The Washington Post Editorial Board published an editorial over the weekend explaining why rent control does not help most renters. The Post cites a study from Stanford University published earlier this year that found that rent control laws are driving gentrification in San Francisco. The Editorial Board argues in favor of policies that can make it more affordable to build new housing, such as increasing density and combating NIMBYism. Read more.

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - September 23, 2019

This week: Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced that the city will be investing $115.3 million from the city's housing bond in 9 new projects; the Southwest Corridor MAX Line's steering committee will meet to discuss a handful of planning and budgeting issues that have arisen; a new working paper published by Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies highlights the steep decline in the number of affordable rental units nationwide.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

HFO Named Among Area's Most Generous Corporate Philanthropists

HFO volunteers at the Oregon Food Bank, September 2019
Tien Nguyen, Nick Quandt and Rachel Reuter
For the third time in the company’s 20-year history, and the second year in a row, HFO is slated to be recognized by the Portland Business Journal among the area’s top 10 corporate philanthropists in its category at an awards ceremony on October 3rd.

Each year, the Business Journal ranks the most generous corporate philanthropists in four categories. For years HFO has ranked among the top 25, but this year marks the third time HFO has been in the top 10 for area businesses with annual revenue of $10 million or less.

HFO regularly contributes to charity for each transaction in the client’s honor. We created a corporate matching fund that makes annual year-end donations to nonprofits selected by brokers and staff.

HFO’s top charities in 2018 were:
$5,000 - Outside In
$5,000 - Morrison Child and Family Services
$1,000 - Meals on Wheels

For 2019 HFO’s top charities are:

$5,000 - Face 2 Face Portland
$5,000 - Girls Inc.

HFO Brokers and staff particularly enjoy volunteering annually at the Oregon Food Bank.

Pictured here (L-R) Rachel Reuter and Donna Brunner.

Below: (L-R) Stephen Wendt and Rob Stigle. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - September 16, 2019

This week: Oregon’s Congressional representative Earl Blumenauer issues a call for federal action to address the housing crisis; CityLab reports that housing construction in all major US metros stalled out in the last decade; California passes statewide rent control.  

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

California Passes Statewide Rent Control

Yesterday, the California legislature approved a statewide rent cap limiting annual rent increases to 5 percent after inflation. Read more.

The President of the National Multifamily Housing Council, Doug Bibby, issued the following statement in response:
"The most effective way to fix California’s housing crisis is by building more housing across a range of price points and AB-1482 makes that harder to do. After Californians overwhelmingly rejected the rent control ballot initiative less than a year ago, lawmakers today went against their constituents by passing a measure that will discourage investment, shrink the availability of affordable housing that already exists and squeeze even more people struggling in the housing market. This makes the problem worse. The housing affordability crisis is real, real Americans are being harmed by it every day and we need real solutions – not restrictive policies that we know don’t work.” 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Apartment Industry and Residents Contribute $3.4 Trillion to the National Economy

 A new study commissioned by the National Apartment Association (NAA) and the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) offers a detailed look at the economic contribution to the national economy by renters and the apartment industry. 

The report indicates that 328,000 new apartment homes are needed each year to meet demand, but producing that housing requires new approaches to development, more incentives, and fewer restrictions.

Recent apartment construction has contributed more than $150 billion to the national economy and created 752,000 jobs.

Areas with high to moderate barriers to new apartments include Seattle and Portland.

Comparison - Seattle vs. Portland Metro (Survey Data)

Total Apartment Homes | 356,000 vs. 178,600
Total Annual Economic Contribution | $34.4 billion vs. $32.2 billion
Total Jobs Supported | 101,800 vs. 160,100
Total Apartment Residents |   679,700  vs. 345,200
Apartments Built Before 1980 | 40%  vs. 41%

Highlights from the report include:

  • All four sectors of the industry have posted very strong growth, punctuated by the construction industry ramping up to meet the unprecedented demand for apartments this cycle – reaching a height of 346,900 completions in 2017, up from 129,900 in 2011.
  • Previous research by Hoyt Advisory Services found that we need to build an average of 328,000 apartments per year at a variety of price points to meet existing demand, which would bring continued economic activity. This number of multifamily completions has only been surpassed twice since 1989.
  • Hoyt research also found that a significant portion of the existing apartment stock will need to be renovated in the coming years, boosting spending in the renovation and repair sector.
  • The combined contribution of apartment construction, operations, renovation, and resident spending equals $3.4 trillion per year, or more than $9.3 billion daily. 

“The apartment industry’s contribution is one that has grown in recent years, fueled by increased rental demand overall as population and employment growth continue and renting becomes a preferred tenure choice for millions of Americans,” said Eileen Marrinan, Managing Director of Eigen 10 Advisors, which partnered with Hoyt. 

“Construction is still moving ahead, as there’s a need for additional apartments in many states. And, due to an abundance of aging stock, there’s a growing need for renovations and improvements on existing apartment buildings. Construction and renovation/repair will provide a sizable boost in jobs – and the economy – nationwide, and will continue to be a hefty contribution to the country’s economy for decades,” said NMHC President Douglas M. Bibby. 

“The multifamily industry is an economic engine powering the economy very significantly at the national, state and local levels,” said NAA President Robert Pinnegar. “This clearly illustrates the tremendous positive impact our apartments have on the communities they serve.”

This study provides data to back up the assertion that the apartment industry contributes to national, state and local tax economies. Tax payments associated with apartment operations, as well as tax payments by apartment residents, contributed $408.9 billion to the national economy. These taxes support schools, improvements to local infrastructure, and other critical services in communities across the country. 

Additional information can be found at

Monday, September 9, 2019

Despite Evidence That It Improves Returns, Commercial Real Estate Industry Lags on Diversity and Inclusion

ULI reports in its current issue of Urban Land Magazine that the Commercial Real Estate industry has fallen behind on diversity and inclusion. Despite evidence including a 2015 McKinsey report showing that gender and ethnically diverse teams perform significantly above industry median, 75% of senior executive executive jobs in the industry are held by white men. Just 1.3% of these positions were held by black men, 14.1% were held by white women, and fewer than 1% were held by nonwhite women. There is some evidence that the industry could start to change, however. Deloitte's 2019 Commercial Real Estate Outlook found that 86% of respondents acknowledged the impact of diversity on returns, and 79% said the industry is not doing enough to promote diversity and inclusion. As tech based innovations including crowd funding gain in popularity, more doors could be opened to those who have traditionally fallen outside of the old industry "boys' club." Read more.

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - September 9, 2019

This week: King County Washington plans to divert nearly $100 million to affordable housing over the next 20 years without raising taxes; Sacramento, California passes a rent control measure; and almost two-thirds of Portland residents say they have no input into city decisions that are important to them.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Multifamily Marketwatch - September 3, 2019

This week: a survey of Portland residents find that 61% do not feel like they have a say in city decisions that are important to them; a new law in Washington could allow King County to divert nearly $100 million to affordable housing projects over the next 20 years without raising taxes; and Portland and Seattle are in the top 10 among cities with the highest shares of residents with college or professional degrees.

Listen to our latest podcast.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Rent Increases in Portland Metro Are Beginning to Pick Up Again

As a large amount of units came online in 2017 and 2018, rent growth in the Portland Metro Area began to flatten. But RealPage reports that Portland area rents are up 3% since last year. While rent growth in the central city has remained relatively flat, suburban markets are seeing rents rise more quickly. In Beaverton and Vancouver, rents are up nearly 5%. While the Oregonian reports that a large number of new apartment units are still on the way, reporter Elliot Njus cautions that development permits in Portland are down due in large part to the city's inclusionary zoning requirement. Read more.

Can a Landlord say "No Guns" in a Rental Lease?

The answer to the question of whether a landlord can prevent guns from being kept in an apartment is considered by author John Triplett in this article from the Rental Housing Journal. Read more. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Seattle's Multifamily Market Boom Continues

Ongoing delivery of new units is not slowing demand for apartments and their steady absorption, according to a new report. Read more.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

RentCafe: Rents Increases in Oregon Outpace National Average in July

According to RentCafe, month-over-month rent growth in Oregon cities largely outpaced growth nationwide in July. While Wilsonville saw the highest rent growth in Oregon at 1.7%, nationally average rent went up just 0.2% last month. Lake Oswego, which also boasts the most expensive average rent at $1,704 per month, saw average rent increases of 1.3% in July. Beaverton, Bend, Portland, Springfield, and Tigard also saw rent increases of at least 1%. Read more.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - August 26, 2019

This week: while more than 70 percent of economists think a recession will begin in the next two years, its predicted to have less impact on housing; insurers are dropping customers in areas of the west more prone to wildfires--leaving state insurance plans as the only option; and the Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to implement a rule this fall that would make it harder to bring certain discrimination claims under the Fair Housing Act.

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Multifamily Marketwatch - August 19, 2019

This week: Representatives of landlord and tenant groups question the Portland Rental Services Office's use of funds generated by the new rental services fee to pay OneApp Oregon for renter data; economic indicators are causing investors to worry about a potential recession; a report from the Terner Center for Housing finds that impact fees are negatively impacting housing construction in California.

Listen to our latest podcast.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Funding of OneApp Oregon through Rental Services Fee Receives Criticism from Landlord and Tenant Groups

Since the city approved an annual $60 per unit fee on rental housing in Portland last week, critics have come forward questioning a line item in the Rental Services Office budget that funnels $128,000 per year to private company OneApp Oregon. According to the Willamette Week, Multifamily NW executive director Deborah Imse expressed concerns over OneApp's handling of data that landlords are not able to ask tenants for under the Fair Housing Act. She also said that landlords who have used OneApp have found that tenants who have been told they qualify for a unit frequently do not meet screening criteria. Meanwhile, Margot Black of Portland Tenants United, who does not often find common ground with landlord groups, expressed similar concerns. Black does not believe that OneApp has successfully met the needs it sought to address. She is urging the Rental Services Office to be more accountable, and to use its limited funding more wisely. Read more.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Multifamily Marketwatch Podcast - August 12, 2019

This week: The Portland City Council approved an annual $60 per unit fee on rental housing; Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno released a report on end-of-budget-cycle spending among state agencies, issuing 16 recommendations to improve transparency in state budgets; the National League of Cities' Housing Taskforce is calling on cities to work together to collect and share data in order to take on the nationwide housing shortage.

Listen to our latest podcast.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Minneapolis Rejects Single Family Zoning, But Is It Enough to Improve Affordability?

Bloomberg Businessweek reported last week on the adoption of the Minneapolis 2040 plan, which ended single family zoning in the city. While single family buildings are still permitted, now duplexes and triplexes can be built in these neighborhoods as well. Since the passage of the new zoning code, the state of Oregon passed its own ban on single family zoning in cities throughout the state (HB 2001). But while many Minneapolis homeowners believe that the 2040 plan will lead to the destruction of established neighborhoods, developers argue that the new rezoning does not go far enough. Steve Cramer of the MPLS Downtown Council estimates that developers will need to spend $3 billion in order to make up for a decade of underbuilding in the city, as well as an additional $1.3 billion per year to keep up with population growth. Duplexes and triplexes will not enable developers to efficiently bring enough units to market to meet demand. Read more.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Portland City Council Approves $60 Per Unit Annual Fee for Rental Housing

The Portland City Council voted this morning to approve a $60 per unit annual fee for rental housing, which will provide funding for the Rental Services Office. Commissioner Fritz was the only Commissioner of the four present to vote against the fee (Commissioner Hardesty was absent). Fritz indicated that she would have voted in favor of this fee last year, prior to the passage of recent local and statewide regulations impacting landlords. She also believes the flat fee structure is regressive, and that mobile home parks should have been exempted.

The city council passed the fee over the objections of landlords, who testified a week earlier that the charge was a tax that would be passed on to renters since all the services it supports were for renters. Read more.