Benefits, Risks and Things to Consider Before You Add an Accessory Dwelling Unit to Your Home

 

Have you ever rented the unit in someone’s basement? Maybe your spouse’s mother moved into your “Mother-In-Law Unit” above your garage? Or have you ever travelled and stayed in a pool house for your stay? Commonly referred to as “Mother-In-Law” units, homeowners use these as a way to fill the space in their home and gain residual income, either from vacationers or long-term tenants.

The official terms for these units are Additional Dwelling Units (ADU) or Detached Additional Dwelling Units (DADU’s), and are defined as extra spaces in homes and on properties where someone can live completely independent of the main house.

These units can be almost anywhere on the property, but they are usually located in the basement, in the backyard, or above the garage. They have their own bathroom and kitchen facilities, and sometimes they share laundry with the main house.

Thinking of adding a unit to your home? Here are some benefits and risks, as well as important aspects to consider before you build:

Benefits

Homeowners can maximize their investment by renting out the extra space to long-term tenants for short-term vacationers. These tenants can help pay off debt or create an extra stream of income to pay for other needs or wants.

Depending on several factors, including the size of the unit, the market in the area, and other factors, each homeowner should decide which option they are more comfortable with. These decisions should be made before they list the unit for rent to best market to the right audience.

Risks

An obvious risk is that when you open your space to a stranger, there’s a possibility that things might end poorly. Either the tenants could turn out to be untrustworthy, or unreliable, leading to a financial burden.

To minimize the risks, it’s a good idea to use an application process to check backgrounds and employment history as a tool to get to know the potential tenant. Make sure to adhere to the National Fair Housing Laws and your local regulations.

Things to Consider:

  • What are the shared spaces?
    • Would you be comfortable sharing those spaces, and potentially appliances, with a new person each weekend, or would you rather get to know the long-term tenant who would use those on a consistent basis?
    • Rooms like the kitchen can be great for those who want to get more interaction from their vacation renters. However, sharing one bathroom between the homeowners and the visitors can be uncomfortable and risky.
    • Would you be okay with a long-term renter using your laundry facilities? What kind of access would they need to the house in order to use those machines?
  • What is the size of the ADU/DADU?
    • Is it truly a space where someone could live, or would it be too tight to fit all the necessary appliances?
    • Does the unit adhere to your local housing codes as a livable space?
  • How close are the units and what noise level are you comfortable with?
    • As a long-term landlord, tenants have the right to quiet enjoyment without the landlord barging into their space or controlling their activities. If the unit is in the basement and the tenant has friends or family over, that noise could permeate into your unit in the late hours of the night. A way to prevent this is to be sure to layout quiet hours and expectations before they sign the lease or make an agreement so that you and the tenant are on the same page.
    • The same goes for the rules in the vacation rental listing. Managing expectations is the first way to create a relationship with the tenants, even those there for the weekend.
  • What improvements are required to make the unit livable?
    • Do you need to add a kitchen or a bathroom? What are the costs associated with those improvements and would the market-rate rental prices make up for those improvements? You might not get your money back within the year, but if you’re dedicated to making the space worth it to rent it out over the next few years, these improvements, and financial obligations are necessary.
    • If these initial investments aren’t viable for your situation, it might be a good idea to look at other options to earn rent from your home, including adding roommates with whom you’re willing to share all the common spaces.

Whatever you decide, it’s important to be familiar with the rental market and regulations in both your local region and your neighborhood.

Do you have an ADU or DADU on your property? How do you use it? Let us know in the comments.


Posted on October 28, 2019 at 9:25 am
Joey Dion | Posted in Home Care |

New Payroll Tax?

Eugene Voters to decide on a new payroll tax in November special election


EUGENE, Ore. – A charter amendment is on the Eugene Special Election ballot for November 5th. It’s a measure that affects the tax rates for a new city payroll tax.

Eugene city councilors went ahead last June and passed the new public safety payroll tax, without a public election.

This time, officials are going to the public on a charter change, that would lock in tax rates for Eugene employees and employers.

It’s Lane County Measure 20-302 on the November ballot, coming to voters more than four months after the payroll tax was approved.

“To show their good faith with regard to how that tax would be used, they wanted to lock in the ability for the community, the voters, to have control over how and when that measure might be used in the future,” said Chris Pryor, a Eugene City Councilor.

The Eugene payroll tax will collect just over $23 million dollars a year for 40 more police officers, more detectives, more 911 dispatchers and other public safety needs. If passed, the charter amendment caps the tax on local employers at 0.0021 percent on gross annual payroll. The top tax rate on employees would be 0.0044 percent.

“It really boils down to a notion of emergency and need, with regard to why the council to this unusual step,” said Pryor.

Minimum wage earners are exempt from the tax. Those earning above minimum wage but under $15 an hour pay at a lower rate.

Pryor says voters upset with the council passing the tax should still vote yes on the charter change otherwise.

“Then it is possible that some future city council could change the uses of that money, because there would be nothing locked in to the city charter to prevent them from doing it,” said Pryor.

Collections on the Eugene payroll tax begin the middle of next year.

At the same election, Coburg voters will decide if they want to boost their local gas tax to pay for more street repairs. And voters in the Santa Clara fire district are deciding whether to renew a five year / operating levy.

source: https://nbc16.com/news/local/eugene-voters-to-decide-on-a-new-payroll-tax-in-november-special-election-10-26-2019


Posted on October 26, 2019 at 11:09 am
Joey Dion | Posted in Community, News & Activities |

How to Cover Unexpected Costs with a Personal Loan

Owning a home comes with its rewards — it’s an investment, a cozy haven to kick-up your feet after a long day of work, and a welcoming place to bring family and friends together. Although all of this makes homeownership fulfilling, owning a home also opens the door for unexpected (but necessary) expenses.

If you’ve suddenly been hit with a home improvement project that’s pinching your budget, like a roofing issue or heater malfunction, a personal loan might be an option to help cover the cost.

What is a personal loan?

A personal loan is an installment loan that’s typically issued by a bank, credit union or online lender. According to the Federal Reserve, the average interest rate on a two-year personal loan is 10.22% but varies depending on your credit score and other criteria. Some lenders offer repayment terms anywhere from 12 months to five years.

A benefit of using a personal loan for emergency home improvement projects is that the approval process is generally quick so you can address urgent home repairs sooner. Some online lenders can run a credit check, approve your application and send funds your way with a couple of days. The approval process for banks and credit unions, on the other hand, can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, if the lender needs additional information.

How to find a personal loan

If you’ve decided that a personal loan makes sense to fund your next home project, make sure you’re aware of these next steps.

1. Assess your budget

The last thing you need is taking out a personal loan only to realize after the fact that you can’t afford to repay it. Calculate how much you realistically need for your home improvement project, giving yourself a reasonable buffer for unforeseen repair expenses (e.g. permit fees, price changes for a specific material, etc.)

Then, tally your monthly income and financial obligations to ensure you still have enough cash on hand to keep the lights on and make monthly installments toward your loan. Using a spreadsheet or budgeting app can help you track these numbers easily.

2. Know your credit score

Generally, you need a good credit score to get approved for a personal loan. Your credit score is one of the key factors that lenders use to determine whether your application is approved, and a higher credit score results in a lower interest rate offer.

Check your credit score with the three credit bureaus to ensure there isn’t an error or suspicious activity that might inadvertently lower your credit score. For a free credit report, go to AnnualCreditReport.com to see where your credit stands before moving forward in the process.

3. Compare rates and terms

When you’ve confirmed that you have a good credit score that can get you competitive interest rates, it’s tempting to accept a loan from the first lender that approves you. But like other major purchases, it’s important to shop around.

Compare interest rates, annual percentage rates (APR), and term durations available, and read the fine print for any conditions or fees that might offset any benefits.

To start, try reaching out to your existing financial institution first to see what they can offer; sometimes credit unions, in particular, offer rate incentives for loyal members. Also, consider using a personal loan aggregator website to compare offers from multiple online lenders at once (just do your due diligence to ensure the site is legitimate).

4. Submit an application

If you’re ready to submit an application, you can either complete a form online or apply in-person, depending on your lender. Although all lenders require different information to process a loan application, some common information to prepare ahead of time include:

  • Personal information
  • Income
  • Employment information
  • Reason for the loan
  • Amount you want to borrow

To minimize any delays on your end, it’s helpful to prepare copies of verification documents, such as a driver’s license, proof of address like a utility statement, information about your home and pay stubs. Your prospective lender will likely reach out to you if they need any other information to make a decision.

Although it’s always best to have emergency savings set aside for a sudden home improvement project, turning to a personal loan is a useful option when you’re pressed for funds and time. As urgent as your project might feel, however, always take the time to do your research to ensure you’re making the right move for your situation.


Posted on October 24, 2019 at 12:12 pm
Joey Dion | Posted in Financing Options |

Investment Properties! How do they work?

Investing in property can be a great way to build your net worth, diversify your investment portfolio, generate cash flow, or build your retirement fund.

However, you have to know the basics before you start investing in properties. They’ll help you determine whether property investment is right for you.

Many people want to invest in real estate. Few put forth the time or effort to learn what they need to invest successfully. Do you think investing in real estate might be the right investment vehicle for you? Here are a few property investment basics to help get you started.

Why invest in properties?

Real estate is a worthwhile long-term investment because it offers attractive benefits, including cash flow, appreciation, diversification, tax deductions, and competitive returns. It’s the combination of these advantages that creates such an appealing investment vehicle.

There are dozens of ways to invest in real estate, but for the most part, investors partake in this asset class for these five reasons.

1. Cash flow

Cash flow is the income from renting or leasing a property. Positive cash flow means there’s money left over after paying expenses. Negative cash flow means there are more expenses than income.

Most investors buy property because it offers positive cash flow. Cash flow can be acquired from a single-family rental property, apartment complex, industrial building, retail space, self-storage facility, and many more real estate investment vehicles.

Let’s say you buy a duplex that produces $2,000 a month in monthly rental income. After $700 in expenses and paying the mortgage, you have a positive cash flow of $300. That might not seem like much, but once you pay off the mortgage, it’ll go up. And if you buy another property, your total cash flow will go up again.

Eventually, with enough time and positive-cash-flow properties, you can create a monthly income that sustains your living expenses. It could even replace the income from your job or support you in retirement.

When building long-term wealth, cash flow is almost always a factor.

2. Appreciation

If you hold a property over some time, there’s a chance the property will increase in value, or “appreciate.”

Appreciation is a potential added benefit of real estate investing — there’s no guarantee it will happen. Market fluctuations or shifts in local economics can disrupt the local supply and demand. That changes the value of a property.

However, the longer you hold a property, the higher the chance it will appreciate over that time.

3. Diversification

Managing risk is a large part of investing. You can manage risks by selecting certain investments over others or making multiple investments. Many people use real estate to diversify their investments beyond stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

There’s still risk in real estate investing. But having properties across multiple asset classes, markets, or investment vehicles can lower your risk.

4. Tax benefits

While most new investors don’t get into real estate because of the tax advantages, they can be a significant benefit.

There are several tax incentives and deductions offered to real estate investors. There are also ways to use real estate to defer taxes or avoid having to pay taxes on future gains at all.

Learn the tax benefits available when investing in properties. And if you have questions, speak with an accountant who specializes in real estate investing. They’ll help you figure out how to get the most tax benefits from your investment.

5. Return on investment

It doesn’t matter if you invest in stocks, bonds, cryptocurrencies, or real estate — the goal is to grow your money. This is called a return. The higher the return, the faster you get your money back and start making a profit.

For example, if you put $25,000 in a real estate investment receiving an 8% return, you would get $2,000 in yearly income. Over 20 years, that initial $25,000 would garner you $40,000 without requiring additional money.

It’s worth noting that you may have to put in more money for things like maintenance and tenant screening. But those expenses are deductible.

There’s no guarantee your money will grow in real estate — or any investment vehicle, for that matter. But you can get a consistent return with real estate. Buying a rental property today could mean cash flow for decades to come. Appreciation, tax benefits, and a strong long-term return sweeten the deal.

neighborhood storefront

Realistic expectations for beginner property investors

It’s more work than you think

All too often, beginner investors don’t know what it means to be a real estate investor. Property investments aren’t just stunning house flips, big checks, and passive cash-flowing properties.

There’s a lot of work involved in learning how to invest in real estate and finding, analyzing, and managing worthwhile investments. While it can be a very profitable business, it takes commitment.

It’s a long game

Building wealth doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long-term game. Making enough cash flow to replace your income or adequately meet your retirement goals takes time. It’s not uncommon for new investors to try growing too quickly, leading to quick investment decisions that result in poor returns.

While you can achieve financial freedom through real estate, it’s important not to rush. Carefully review and evaluate each investment opportunity. Make sure each property is well managed and running efficiently to support further growth.

Start small

Many people make their first property investment in residential real estate. It costs less than investing in commercial properties and there’s less analysis, acquisition, and management required.

If you want to invest in commercial real estate, consider investing in a REIT or real estate ETF first. After learning and saving more, you can work toward acquiring your own piece of commercial real estate.

Find the right market

While investing locally may be the most comfortable option, it’s not always the best. Finding a market that supports your property investment is imperative to a successful real estate venture.

Areas have different demands; some may have a higher need for assisted living, mobile home parks, or student housing. Research the supply and demand of the type of property you want to invest in and find geographic areas that support the growth or development of that asset class.

Keep in mind the amount of money you have available to invest, as well. Specific markets, like the Pacific Northwest or New York City, have incredibly high real estate prices, and some investors get priced out of the market. You can spend $250,000 or more on a downpayment for a property. That much money would buy you an investment property in cash elsewhere.

If you’ve identified a market with affordable investment opportunities, look into the local economy. Job and population growth, low vacancy rates, and a stable median income are good signs.

Know your numbers

If you want to venture into investment properties, learn how to analyze individual opportunities. You’ll need to know how to calculate the potential income, expenses, and return on investment. Make sure your numbers account for vacancy rates and routine maintenance and repairs.

If you have a loan on the investment property, make sure you have 3–5 months of mortgage payments saved. If there’s an economic downturn, a longer-than-expected vacancy, or other unexpected events, you may need it.

Rather than taking any positive cash flow as income now, it may be wise to use that to pay down your mortgage faster. This reduces the interest you pay over time and increases your cash flow sooner.

Master your niche

Become an expert of whatever avenue of property investing you decide to pursue — residential rentals, vacation rentals, commercial property, or another niche. When you master that area, you can analyze opportunities faster, acquire and manage properties more smoothly, and use your experience to build a larger portfolio.

Try not to get distracted by other investment avenues until you’ve seen sustained success with your current investments. It’s better to do one thing well than three things poorly.

Investing in properties can be very lucrative if done properly. But keep realistic expectations. Always weigh the risks and rewards before investing and keep learning about each niche. Build your expertise as you build your portfolio.

source: https://www.fool.com/millionacres/articles/understanding-property-investment-basics-get-you-started/


Posted on October 22, 2019 at 8:27 pm
Joey Dion | Posted in Financing Information |

Keeping Families Warm from Head to Toe

 

Windermere is in its fourth season of helping #TackleHomelessness with the Seattle Seahawks!

Each year, as part of that campaign, Windermere hosts a “We’ve Got You Covered” winter drive for a local non-profit. This year, we are collecting warm winter gear for our new non-profit partner, Mary’s Place, an organization that provides safe, inclusive shelter and services to women, children and families on their journey out of homelessness.

We are asking for donations of NEW hats, scarves, gloves/mittens, and warm socks for all genders and sizes.

From October 14 through November 8, you can drop off donations at our participating Windermere Real Estate and Property Management offices in King and Snohomish Counties**. Once the drive is over, our friends at Gentle Giant Moving Company — our winter drive partner for the past three years — will once again generously donate their time and trucks to pick up the donations collected by our offices, to deliver to Mary’s Place.

Since 1999, Mary’s Place has helped hundreds of women and families move out of homelessness into more stable situations. Across eight emergency family shelters in King County, they keep struggling families together, inside, and safe when they have no place else to go. But shelter capacity is limited and there are still hundreds of families sleeping outside in cars and tents each night. Please help them stay warm during the cold winter months by dropping off your donations to our participating offices.

Feel free to contact your Windermere agent or local office for more information, or email justask@windermere.com.


Posted on October 15, 2019 at 1:44 pm
Joey Dion | Posted in Community |

Make Your Space YOURS!

Designing Your Rental To Feel Like Home

Stylizing your own home can be a daunting but rewarding challenge. When you own your living space, it’s easy to feel a sense of ownership over every piece of your design. But for renters, the challenge is a bit different. Despite limitations, it’s no less important to one’s well-being for a residence to convey a sense of ownership and self. To make a rental unit feel a bit more like home, we collected a few ways to imbue your abode with your own spirit, without risking your security deposit.

 

Storage – Let’s be honest, rentals often lack sufficient storage place, and since custom cabinetry isn’t usually an option for renters, investing in some added storage is key.

Add some simple, no-to-low damage shelves, bookshelves that stand on their own, baskets, or use under the bed storage. Search for furniture that doubles as storage, like an ottoman that opens up or a side table with a drawer or shelf.

 

Blinds – Vertical blinds may be the ultimate decorating sin. No one likes feeling as if they’re living in a motel room.

We suggest you either take them down and save them somewhere so you remember to put them back when you leave. Another option is to hide them under curtains. Just don’t throw them out or you may not get all of your security deposit back!

Before making changes like this, or adding hardware like curtain rods, be sure to ask your landlord for permission.

 

Accessorize – A MUST when decorating your space are small items like pillows, throws, candles, books, and light fixtures… the only way to get a truly genuine space. These are easy ways to add your unique style that you can take with you from one place to the next.

 

Wall Art – Hanging art with hooks and nails can damage the walls, which might keep you from hanging art or photos on your walls, but when it comes down to it at move out, they’ll only take a few minutes to patch up when it comes time to move out. This doesn’t mean you have to hang an entire art gallery, but hanging one statement piece and placing the rest of the photos on a mantel or shelf can be all you need.

Again, ask your landlord before you add any holes in the home. When you’re touring, ask the landlord to keep the existing holes in the walls so you can use them, or ask if you can get the paint color information so you can patch and touch-up yourself, upon move-out.

 

Rugs – Last but not least, rugs: the peanut butter to your rental jelly. If there are scratched hardwood floors or stained carpets, you can cover those up easily with a throw rug, and prevent further damage as you live there.

Additionally, a rug is a great investment piece that will add your personal flavor to any space, plus they absorb noise and make a room feel comfy.

 

Do you have any great tips to decorating a rental? Let us know in the comments!


Posted on October 11, 2019 at 1:11 pm
Joey Dion | Posted in Home Care |

Prepare Your Home for Winter!

As the days shorten, you can mitigate many mid-winter headaches with some preemptive prep. Proper weatherizing can help protect your home from preventable damage, save money on energy costs, and, most importantly, keep you and your loved ones safe and warm throughout the winter season. Here is a useful checklist to manage your weatherization project. Setting aside some time on a couple of weekend days should be more than enough to knock this out:

 

Cracks & Leaks

Examine your entire house for any cracks and leaks, from your roof to your baseboards, to your basement and foundation. With unpredictable winter weather, these cracks and leaks are how the outside gets in, causing cold drafts and water damage.

Luckily, most cracks don’t require a professional to handle it. Depending on your house type and age, it’s likely you’ll be able to do it yourself with supplies from your local hardware store.

Windows & Doors:

Gaps and breaks in windows and doors is another way to let the winter in your home, and they can let heat escape, raising your heat bill throughout the season.

Make sure seals are tight and no leaks exist. If you have storm windows, make sure you put them on before the cold season begins. Additionally, add weather-strips and or a door sweep to prevent drafts and keep the heat in.

Rain Gutters: 

Clean your rain gutters of any debris. In colder climates, the buildup will cause gutters to freeze with ice, crack and then leak.

Once you have removed the residue from the drains, test them by running hose water to make sure cracks and leaks have not already formed. Even in warmer locales, the buildup can put undue stress on your roof and home.

Pipes: 

Protecting your pipes from freezing should be your number one priority this winter. A burst pipe can quickly become a disaster in any home.

Remember to turn off your exterior water source and take in your hose. Internally, wrapping your pipes is a recommended precaution to take.

Heating System:

Annual checks are vital in avoiding dangers such as house fires. Replace filters if you use a furnace and clear out any vents and ducts that carry heat through them. If you have baseboard heat, wipe them of dust and remove any debris that might catch fire.

Fireplace & Wood Burning Stoves:

Make sure to have chimneys and air vents cleaned early in the season if you are planning on warming your home with a wood-burning source. When your fireplace is not in use make sure to close the damper, some resources estimate an open damper can increase energy consumption by as much as 30%, increasing your bill about $200.

Outside: 

Bring your patio furniture inside or cover it for the winter. Don’t forget other, smaller items such as your tools, including the hose and planting pots. Clear out any piles around the side of your house, checking for cracks and holes in your home and foundation as you go so to avoid providing shelter for unwelcome guests over the cold season.

If your property has large trees check for loose branches and call someone to trim back any limbs that may fall in your yard, on your roof or even damage a window.

Emergency Kit: 

Lastly, make sure your emergency kit is up to date with provisions, batteries, fresh water, food for animals, entertainment for kids – especially if you live in an area prone to power outages.

For a more complete emergency preparedness guide, visit https://www.ready.gov/winter-weather.


Posted on October 7, 2019 at 11:06 am
Joey Dion | Posted in Uncategorized |

Name Three Eugene Streets…The Top 12!

Eugene whittles 1,100 street name suggestions down to 12 semi-finalists

EUGENE, Ore. – Eugene residents recommended 1,100 ideas for the names of 3 new streets to be created through redevelopment of the Willamette River waterfront.

That list has now been whittled down to 12 semi-finalists.

Neither Roady McRoadFace nor Streety McStreetFace made the cut.

Suggestions had to fit into one of three categories: Community/Culture; Ecology/River; or Industry/Energy.

“Additionally, names had to meet practical guidelines such as not exceeding 20 characters or being too similar to another street name in Lane County,” the City of Eugene said. “Names of people who are still living or already have a public space named after them were also removed.”

So which names made the cut?

Current: “Represents both water and electrical currents, relating to the site’s history with EWEB, the City’s publicly-owned water and electricity provider, and the site’s proximity to the Willamette River.”

Wiley Griffon: “Among Eugene’s earliest documented African American residents (c. 1893), Wiley Griffon drove Eugene’s first horse drawn streetcar system and later worked as a janitor at the University of Oregon. He remarkably owned a home near the Riverfront at what is presently E. 4th and Mill during a time when African American people were excluded by law from living not only in the city limits, but in the state of Oregon.”

Andíp: “Andip is the indigenous Kalapuya word for “the camas,” a flower that blooms throughout the Willamette Valley.”

Megawatt: “A unit of power equal to one million watts; a nod to the site’s history with EWEB, the City’s electric and water utility.”

Chifin: “The Chifin tribe was a specific group of the indigenous Kalapuya who occupied much of the area of Eugene.”

Electric: “Built in 1931, the Steam Plant provided standby electrical power to the pumps bringing river water in to the city’s original water treatment plant and starting in 1962 supplied heating to downtown businesses.”

Akawan: “Akawan is the indigenous Kalapuya word for ‘fish.'”

Track Town: “With a history of world class runners and its embrace of the running community, Eugene has long been known as Track Town, USA.”

Lotte: In honor of Lotte Streisinger (1927-2017) who “during an important period in Eugene’s growth she advocated for and administered the selection of much of our public art (at the Hult, the Airport, the University) and appeared weekly on KLCC hosting the Visible City program. She was the founder of the Eugene Saturday Market, which sprang from an annual art sale she founded. She was a fierce peace activist.”

Cannery: “Previously located near the riverfront, the cannery was one of the City’s largest industrial sites and employers, playing a key role in the growth of the region’s agricultural sector.”

Annie Mims/Mims: “Annie Mims and her husband C.B. Mims were the first African American family to own a home in Eugene at a time when African American’s were excluded from living in the city limits and redlining was rampant.”

NakNak: “Naknak is the indigenous Kalapuya word for ‘duck.’”

Online voting is open through October 18.

The voting results will be given to Mayor Lucy Vinis, who will help make the final decision.

 

source: https://nbc16.com/news/local/eugene-whittles-1100-street-name-suggestions-down-to-12-semi-finalists


Posted on October 4, 2019 at 12:14 pm
Joey Dion | Posted in Community |

How Home Ownership Impacts the U.S. Economy


Posted on October 1, 2019 at 3:01 pm
Joey Dion | Posted in Gardner |

What is House Bill 2001?

What Does ‘Middle Housing’ Look Like?

Last week, the Oregon Senate passed House Bill 2001 which would fundamentally change residential zoning laws in Oregon. In cities of 10,000 or more people, duplexes will be allowed in areas currently zoned for single-family homes. In cities of 20,000 or more people, triplexes and fourplexes will be allowed in areas currently zoned for single-family homes. The bill has bipartisan support and Gov. Kate Brown is expected to sign it.

Supporters of the bill argue that “middle” housing is missing in America. This is housing somewhere between single-family housing and mid- or high-rise apartment living. According to The Missing Middle, “These building types, such as duplexes, fourplexes, and bungalow courts, provide diverse housing options to support walkable communities, locally-serving retail, and public transportation options.”

They’re historically missing because they’ve been illegal to build since the 1940s when zoning laws changed to favor detached, single-family homes and mid- to high-rise apartments.

According to reporting by City Lab, restricted access to land through single-family zoning leads to “increased costs, worse affordability problems, and deepened inequality in urban centers.”

The disparity is easily highlighted by these graphics from the Sightline Institute:

“The first 15 yellow areas where duplexes or apartments were made illegal, put in place between 1924 and 1959. Each red dot is a building with two to eight homes constructed after 1924. Map by Neil Heller.”
“Blue areas are Census block groups with median incomes over $60,000. Dark blue are blocks with median incomes over $95,000. Map by Neil Heller. Data source: U.S. Census Bureau.”
“Portland’s highest-income Census block groups mapped against its first 15 exclusionary zones. Map by Neil Heller. Median income data: Census American Community Survey.”

The areas where attached homes were originally banned, closely lines up with areas with expensive homes.

Exclusionary zoning creates racial and economic segregation by insulating the wealthy, higher-educated and predominately white homeowners in trendy and desirable locations. This pushes out poorer, less-educated folks who are often people of color.

By increasing housing density, middle housing is anticipated to reduce housing prices by bringing more units to the market and walk back some of the segregation created from exclusionary zoning.

 

What does Middle Housing look like?

Middle housing share many desirable characteristics like walkability, community, and smaller-footprints. They have higher density than single-family homes but much lower than traditional apartment buildings.

Walkability is very important for middle housing because renters or homeowners are trading yard size and square-footage for proximity to public transportation, restaurants, work, and other amenities.

The walkability context also plays a key role in building community within middle housing. Especially with cottage clusters or courtyard apartments, having central community space adds another dimension and allows renters or homeowners to interact with neighbors right next door or run into each other at a neighborhood cafe or the bar on the corner.

Here are some examples:

  • Duplexes: small or medium-sized dwellings either side-by-side or stacked on top of each other.
  • Cottage Clusters (or Bungalow Courts): small or medium-sized detached dwellings that share outdoor space and sometimes an indoor community space. See our Mason Street Townhomes for an example. Portland already has several of these types of communities.
  • Townhomes: anywhere from four to eight small or medium-sized attached dwellings that are usually placed side-by-side.
  • Fourplex (or quad-plex): four units usually two dwellings side by side with two more dwellings stacked, they can share a common entrance or each have their own.


Posted on October 1, 2019 at 10:59 am
Joey Dion | Posted in Legislation |