For Buyers and Sellers
Evaluating the Neighborhood
Oregon First, Realtors® & Washington First Properties
The following is adapted from the Oregon Property Buyer Advisory that was created by the Oregon Realtor® Association and endorsed by the Oregon Real Estate Agency. Your Oregon First, Realtors® & Washington First Properties agent will assist you in discovering as much as possible about your potential new home while you're still in your due diligence period.
SCHOOLS & WALKABILITY
Every Oregon First listing includes a link to detailed information on schools in that area, including test scores and ratings by parents and educators. In addition, the Oregon Department of Education produces yearly report cards for all schools and districts, which you can access HERE. Location within a school district can be an important attribute of a neighborhood. School boundaries, however, are subject to change. If location within a particular school district is material to the purchase of real property, the buyer should investigate the boundaries and the likelihood of change by contacting the school district directly. You can find links to the different school districts HERE.
Every Oregon First listing also includes a link to the property’s Walk Score, which can be a great way to learn more about the property’s neighborhood. We even have a Map function which allows you to walk the neighborhood without leaving your computer!
DEATHS, CRIME & EXTERNAL CONDITIONS
In Oregon, certain social conditions that may be of concern to buyers are considered not to be “material” by state law. Oregon Revised Statutes 93.275. Ordinarily, “material facts” must be disclosed by the seller or the seller’s agent. Because state law declares certain facts that may be important to a buyer to be not material, buyers cannot rely on the seller disclosing this kind of information. Buyers should undertake their own investigation if concerned that the property or a neighboring property has been the site of a death, crime, political activity, religious activity, or any other act or occurrence that does not adversely affect the physical condition of, or title to, real property, including that a convicted sex offender resides in the area. Concerned buyers can contact their local police for more information. Websites for Oregon counties can be found HERE. Websites for cities can be found HERE. The city of Portland has a crime mapping tool that can be found HERE. Buyers concerned that neighborhood properties may have been used for illegal drug manufacture can go HERE, the website of the Building Codes Division, for more information. Information on Oregon’s Drug Lab Clean Up Program and meth labs can be found HERE. Under Oregon law, neither the seller nor their agent is allowed to disclose that an owner or occupant of the real property has or had human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Neighborhoods change over time so a buyer cannot expect the area surrounding their home to stay as it is. Buyers concerned about potential development in the surrounding area should check with governmental authorities to determine if any large scale building projects are scheduled for the area. Building permits, zoning applications and other planning actions are a matter of public record. In Oregon, local governments must develop comprehensive plans that guide development over long periods of time. These plans may include “overlay zones” that can have a significant effect upon development. If concerned about development, buyers should check with local government planning departments. Information about planning departments can be found on the county or city website HERE or HERE. For information on state road building projects, check with the Oregon Department of Transportation HERE.
Oregon law provides a “just compensation” right for some Oregon property owners if a public entity enacts or enforces a land use regulation that restricts the use of property and has the effect of reducing the value of the property. The law allows, but does not require, governing bodies to modify, remove, or not apply land use regulations in lieu of paying compensation. Property that has been in single ownership or held in a family over a long period of time may have more development potential and, therefore, value than has a neighboring property purchased more recently. At the same time, some property may be less valuable because of the potential for un-zoned, property specific uses on neighboring property. Real estate licensees are not trained to predict the contingent and uncertain potential effects of complex laws like Oregon compensation laws. Clients who believe their decision to sell or purchase Oregon real estate may be affected by Oregon’s property compensation laws are advised to seek the counsel of appraisers, attorneys or other land use professionals.
HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION DOCUMENTS AND COVENANTS, CONDITIONS & RESTRICTIONS
Covenants, conditions and restrictions, called “CC&Rs,” are formally recorded private limitations on the right to use real property. Often, but not always, CC&Rs are enforced by a homeowners’ association. Review of the CC&Rs is typically part of a real estate sale. Although real estate licensees are familiar with common CC&R provisions, determining the legal effect of specific provisions is considered the practice of law in Oregon and, therefore, beyond the expertise of a real estate licensee. If the subdivision in which the property is located is governed by a homeowners’ association, the CC&Rs may be very restrictive. Homeowners’ associations are often governed by their own articles of incorporation, bylaws, rules and regulations. Homeowners’ association rules and regulations can significantly impact a buyer’s plans for the property the buyer wants to purchase. Planned communities and condominiums are very likely to have detailed homeowners’ association governing documents, mandatory fees and ongoing homeowner obligations. Governing documents, fees and homeowner obligations should be reviewed by the buyer during the transaction. If you have questions about CC&Rs or your legal rights and remedies under homeowners’ association governing documents, you should have your attorney review the documents for you. A real estate licensee is prohibited by law from giving legal advice.
This is a lot of information to wade through. Your Oregon First agent can help you make informed decisions about what types of investigations you should conduct and what questions you should ask the seller. DON’T try to go it alone. Risk can never be entirely removed, but a good agent can give you information and strategies to help minimize the risk as much as possible.