Photo via Pregame Magazine

A Kids About Book Series Makes Oprah Winfrey’s Favorite List

Though I love the phenomenon that is Oprah Winfrey, I am not religious about following up with her latest book club reads or favorite things list. Yet it caught my eye when I saw an article that mentioned how a Portland, Or based company had landed on her favorite things list this year. So of course I had to see what had intrigued Oprah enough to talk about it.

What I found hit my heart. The Portland based company that made Oprah’s list is called “A Kid’s Book About.” A Kid’s Book About is a publishing company, founded by author Jelani Memory, whose mission is to “help kids and their grown ups have honest conversations by making books about challenging, empowering, and important topics told by diverse authors who know that topic first hand.” It all started when Memory, described on the A Kid’s Book About website as a black father with a blended family, wanted to find a way to talk with his kids about the topic of racism in an honest and connective way. Though he initially wrote A Kid’s Book About Racism for his kids only, one copy multiplied to thousands as more people who were also struggling to have that talk wanted a copy as well.

Currently there are over 20 topics that A Kid’s Book About has tackled. Some of these topics include: belonging, death, optimism, anxiety, feminism, shame, bullying, gratitude, money , failure, and many more. I have to say, it is so easy to see why this would be on a favorites list. Conversations with our kids can be hard, so having resources, written by real people who have experienced the topic is not only valuable,  but also provides a sense of support and community. Reading more about this business was such an honor because I was able to learn more about someone in my community who is creating an impact by creating a solution for something he didn’t even realize other people wanted. If you get a chance, check out and shop the A Kid’s Book About website by clicking here.

What topics would you like to see a kid’s book about?

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Hillsboro Is One of the Best Places to Live

When it comes to Hillsboro being one of the best cities to live in, I’m a little biased. Having lived in the area for the majority of my life, I love what this city has to offer, and I am thrilled that others are seeing the value of this community as well. In fact, Money Magazine recently released their “Best Places to Live 2020” list, and Hillsboro came in at #29.

It was no surprised that the first thing that Money Magazine mentioned about Hillsboro was the “Silicon Forest” that everyone has heard of. Intel, IBM, Salesforce, Oracle, and Genentech are several heavy hitters that people around the nation keep an eye on, and are consistently in the news here in Oregon, especially with the amount of jobs they provide. The number of breweries you may find also was not too much of a shock, as one of the fun facts about Oregon is that Portland alone has more breweries than any other city in the world. With Hillsboro being within 30 minutes of Portland (longer if during rush hour, shorter if the stars and moon align), one has access to not only the breweries like Vertigo, Ambacht, and 3 Mugs that are within Hillsboro’s city limits, but everything that Portland has to offer as well.

These are all lovely aspects of residing in Hillsboro, but here are a few more observations that may be added to the justification of why Hillsboro is one of the best places to live:

  1. Parks and Nature Preserves: One of the things I love most about the Hillsboro area is its walkability, not only in the neighborhoods, but in the numerous parks in the city. Hillsboro has over 1500 acres of designated green space, including the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve, Orchard Park, Noble Woods Park, Rood Bridge Park, and so much more.
  2. Home of the Hillsboro Hops and Portland Timbers 2: Hillsboro is home to the only Portland Metro Area professional baseball team, the Hillsboro Hops. Hops games are generally always packed and are such family friendly events that you would be surprised if you went and didn’t see anyone you know there. Within the last year or so, Hillsboro also came to an agreement to be home to the Portland Timbers secondary soccer team, opening up new opportunities for Hillsboro residents to enjoy one of their favorite franchises without making the trek to Providence Park.
  3. Growth: Hillsboro has grown to be the state’s 5th largest city (home to over 100,000 residents), and has the 4th largest school district in Oregon. Not only am I a graduate of a Hillsboro School, but my children attend school in Hillsboro as well. Having the opportunity to be an active participant in the school district, I get the privilege of viewing how decisions are made, the amount of community involvement, and the amount of care that goes into providing opportunities to students. Hillsboro always has eyes on how to create a thriving community. Check out their 2035 plan here.
  4. Environmentally Conscious: Hillsboro has spent consecutive years at the top, and still remain, the national leader in green power usage, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The amazing thing about this is that this comes from residents voluntarily choosing to be environmentally conscious. Since 2012, the amount of green power used in homes and businesses in Hillsboro has increased from 39% to 64.8 percent in 2020.
  5.  City Pride: While Hillsboro is known for bringing in many new residents from out of state due to our abundant “Silicon Forest”, you will also find that many are life-long residents, or leave for a short time and then return. There is a lot of pride in living in the Hillsboro area, from the way the city works to provide opportunities to residents such as small business grants, voices in the community town halls over topics like police work, and  celebrating the diversity of cultures  to the friendliness of our community.

In Hillsboro, you have accessibility to Portland, the coast within an hour to an hour and a half’s reach, and just about the same amount of time to the mountains. We have the benefits of urban living in a suburban setting. Money magazine covered some of the basics of why Hillsboro is one of the best places to live, but in truth there are so many more reasons than what has been listed.

What attributes does your area have that make it your “best place to live”?

Kate Brown

Five Steps That Need to Happen Before Oregon Reopens

Yesterday the announcement that Oregon had made a “Western States Pact” with both Washington and California  was broadcasted to the residents on the West Coast.  The goal of the Western States Pact is to create a shared vision in how the economy of all three states may reopen while controlling the spread of the COVID-19 virus as businesses get back to work. Today, Governor Brown held a press conference that, to some, held less information than one would desire.

To start, the restaurant ban on dine-in services that was set to expire within the next few days has been extended “indefinitely.” Citing the need to proceed with caution, the Governor then began to outline the five steps that will need to happen before Oregon is ready to reopen. They are:

  1. Oregon needs to slow the growth of the COVID-19 virus and  see a reduced amount of cases.
  2. Oregon needs to have enough personal protective equipment for the medical professionals.
  3. Every part of the state needs to have an increased capacity to test for the virus.
  4. A “robust” contact-tracing system to find out who may have been newly exposed to the virus must be developed.
  5.  An effective isolation and quarantine program for those who test positive for the virus must be put in place state-wide.

While all of these are sensible, there was much information left to be detailed out to the public, including what the state’s definition of reduced cases would be, how a contract-tracing system may be developed that does not push the bounds of personal privacy too far, and how these five steps integrate with the Western States Pact.

It is unclear how much will fully be disclosed, or when, but with an increased amount of briefings, hopefully more information will be coming to Oregon residents shortly.

Washington County Mask Drop-Off

Currently the use of face masks are not required when going out, though it has been heavily recommended in recent days. Many people across the state have taken to looking for patterns online in order to sew their own masks, or watch online tutorials on what may be used to create a no-sew mask. For myself, I was able to obtain a face mask from a member of my HOA who was graciously making masks and offering them up to people who live in our neighborhood. Yet what of the residents or health care workers in Washington County who don’t have access to either fabric, a sewing machine, or a friendly neighbor making them?

It was announced today that Sonrise Church, located off of Campus Way in Hillsboro, will be serving as Washington County’s mask distribution center.

For anyone looking to make and donate masks, you may drop them off Monday through Thursdays between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM in the Sonrise Lobby. Sonrise will then be able to give out the masks as requests come in. For any questions regarding mask donations, you can reach Sonrise at 503-640-2449.

 

Market (2)

March 2020 Market Action: Portland Metro

The Regional Multiple Listing System (RMLS) released the latest Market Action Report for the Portland Metro Area on April 9, 2020, but there are not too many surprises at this point in time.

While new listings decreased compared to last year by 1%, they were up over last month’s numbers, 3,504 vs February 2020’s 2,759, a 25.7% increase.

Where the mid-month quarantine began to affect the market, and where we may continue to see fluctuation in April’s numbers is when it comes to pending sales. March 2020 had a total of 2,347 pending sales, which ended up being not only a decrease from March 2019’s 2,738 (a decrease of 14.3%), but also a 9.7% decrease from the 2, 598 pending sales the Portland Metro Area saw in February 2020. Governor Brown’s shelter in place order threw a brief wrench in the market, first for lacking clarity in whether real estate was considered an essential business, and then during the scrambling realtors, lenders, and title companies experienced as they rushed to figure out what the new operation expectations would be when it came to showings, open houses, increased disclosures, lending, and how to provide a safe signing experience for Sellers and Buyers. March 2020 Market ActionWhile pending sales took a hit this March, closed sales increased over March 2019 by 7.9% and by 24.2% compared to those in February 2020. The amount of inventory available in March decreased compared to February going from 1.9 months to 1.8 months. What this means is that if every home on the market was to be gobbled up, it would take all of the current Buyers slightly under 2 months to do that. Considering 3 or 4 month’s worth is considered “healthy”, this indicates that there are either quite a bit of Buyers out there looking (which is normal around this time of year) or that more Sellers were pulling their homes off of the market as the quarantine orders were issued. Most likely it is a mixture of these two things. The average price of homes has not suffered despite the new normal, with the average price of homes up 4.1% at $461,600 compared to 2019’s $443,500 (looking at average year to date).

In March, homes were spending an average of 61 days on market, down from the 68 days in February and March 2019. So while inventory is lower, Buyer’s are still taking some time to make a decision when it comes to which home they would like to purchase. Keep in mind that a traditional escrow runs about 30 days in length, 45 days with the use of certain loans.

When comparing 2020 to where we were at during this time in 2019 it is notable that the amount of new listings has been steady, while both pending and closed sales have increased by 1.1% and 10.5% respectively. Things are looking good, but we have yet to see what April’s numbers will be. I think that once we see those we will have a better idea of what type of market we will be emerging into after the stay at home order is lifted. Despite this wait, people are still touring homes by appointment or virtual showing, listings are still being taken, and Buyers are still making offers. The housing market has not stood still, continuing to move forward despite some uncertainty.

What questions do you have about the current housing market in the Portland Metro Area?