Masu Sushi

Tucked above SW 13th sits Masu Sushi. The service is excellent, the atmosphere is hip and the food is delicious. Make sure to order a Japanista roll, made with crab, tuna and cilantro. Masu validates parking for guests in the nearby Indigo lot.


Masu Sushi

406 SW 13th Avenue

Portland, OR 97205        

Posted on January 31, 2014 at 12:06 am
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Making the Switch to a Tankless Water Heater

As the American market is starting to come around to the idea of efficient tankless water heaters (a standard in Europe and Asia), there seem to be some growing pains in understanding how to switch from a conventional tank system. Properly installing a tankless system requires an understanding that goes beyond simply replacing your tank with a smaller heating unit. The results, however, can be quite rewarding.


Project: Switching to a tankless water heater.

Why: Comfort, cost and efficiency. A properly designed and well-installed tankless water heating system can provide you with constant access to hot water and lower monthly bills. There is no waiting for a rusty tank of standing water to heat up before the second person can shower. Instead, the water is heated on demand. It’s a more efficient way of heating water, without waste (and therefore for less cost). For fewer headaches, make sure to hire a professional if this is something you are interested in doing in your home.

Posted on January 22, 2014 at 8:47 am
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Homeowners and Tax Advantages


The U.S. tax code is designed to offer incentives to homeowners, and by taking advantage of these breaks, 1040 filing citizens can maximize their financial investment in homeownership.

Mortgage Interest Paid can provide a large tax break – especially in the early years of a home loan. This is because the standard mortgage amortization schedule is front-loaded with mortgage interest. Mortgage interest tax deductions are extended to second mortgages, and equity loans.

Discount Points paid in connection with a home purchase or a refinance are often tax-deductible.

Real Estate Taxes

Home Improvements made for medical reasons, or renovations to accommodate a chronically ill or disabled person, and the renovations do not add to the overall value of the home, the project costs are typically tax deductible. Repairs and improvements made for aesthetic purposes are not tax-deductible.

Home Offices: homeowners who work from their residence can typically deduct the expenses of maintaining a qualified home office.

Posted on January 21, 2014 at 10:46 pm
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Lockbox Activity Increases in Portland and Washington

Posted on January 17, 2014 at 7:39 am
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Din Din Supper Club

Riley Henderson, sous chef, regarding din din supper club, “The way din din works is that our chef, Courtney Sproule comes up with a menu and sends an email invitation out about a month ahead. The dinners usually start at the beginning of the month and go until the end when we send out a new invitation and menu. 

Along with each new dinner we also transform the restaurant with a theme that runs through the food and the decor. We are definitely not a typical restaurant but that’s part of the fun. Some of the past themes have been The Talking Heads, Louisiana Voodoo/Creole/French, French Alpine and Sexy Valentines. The food is almost always French influenced and so are the wines, which flow liberally. 

din din has been around for 5 years or so. It started as a roving supper club popping up once a month or so. din din gained popularity and a following and in April din din moved into its permanent home so as to host dinners on a much more regular schedule.

In addition to the dinners, which are run on Fridays and Saturdays, we have brunch on Sundays, a cocktail hour on Thursday and we are open for lunch Monday through Friday with an on point coffee program run by a Stumptown alum serving Sterling Coffee. 

Lastly, on the first Thursday of each month our restaurant is taken over by a late night style talk show that is a lot of fun. Chef Chris and I have a segment on the show called Danger Kitchen. We get creative freedom to come up with a cooking demo, the only caveat is that it has to be dangerous.

We have a lot of different things going on especially for such a small place but it keeps it interesting and challenging.”

Posted on January 15, 2014 at 11:25 pm
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316 NW Broadway


“Budd + Finn was born of the concept that the ideal shop should offer unique and well-designed products at affordable prices – in an inviting, approachable, relaxed atmosphere.”



Posted on January 7, 2014 at 8:00 pm
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3 Things You Need to Do to Buy a Home in a Changing Market


With big changes coming to the mortgage industry at the beginning of next year, many consumers will want to evaluate their home-buying plans.

With big changes coming to the mortgage industry at the beginning of next year, many consumers will want to evaluate their home-buying plans. Regulations drafted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will change the definition of a qualified mortgage for any loan applications received on and after Jan. 10, and many consumers may find themselves unable to meet the new requirements.

Qualified mortgages are loans that meet certain standards designed to ensure that borrowers are highly likely to be able to pay back the amount in question.

Facing this challenge, it’s up to the hopeful homeowner to improve their chances of mortgage approval by doing the necessary research, improving their credit profiles and meeting the qualified mortgage standards well in advance of filling out loan applications.

It’s important to meet qualified mortgage standards because government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have said they won’t buy non-qualified mortgages starting next year, said Joshua Weinberg, senior vice president of compliance with First Choice Lending/Bank. Fannie and Freddie don’t lend to homeowners directly, rather they purchase mortgages from banks and then bundle them into securities and sell those securities to investors.

For lenders that originate mortgages with the intention of selling them to the GSEs, as many do, originating non-qualified mortgages won’t be feasible. Other lenders own the mortgages they originate, meaning they don’t have to worry about selling them to GSEs, and such larger portfolios could probably take on non-qualified mortgages.

What’s Changing?

Mortgages must pass tests of sorts to meet the standards of a qualified mortgage: The APR must be within 150 basis points (1.5 percentage points) of the annual prime offer rate, the loan term cannot exceed 30 years, points and fees cannot exceed 3% of the loan balance and there can be no negative amortization or interest-only payments.

Under these conditions, the mortgage qualifies for safe harbor, meaning the lender is not at risk of being sued by a borrower who is unable to repay the loan. There’s a class of loans called higher-priced qualified mortgages, in which the APR exceeds the 150 basis-point limit, and in those cases, the loan falls under rebuttable presumption, meaning the lender is assumed to have complied with ability-to-pay requirements, unless a borrower or attorney argues otherwise. Loans with rebuttable presumption will likely come at an additional premium, said Cameron Findlay, chief economist at Discover Home Loans, though the price of that premium is unclear at this point.

The ability to repay comprises a series of requirements that must be met by the borrower and verified by the lender, including income and debt levels. All of these CFPB regulations are aimed at protecting consumers from mortgages they can’t reasonably expect to repay, because such faulty loans triggered the recent financial crisis.

Given these limitations, and some new restrictions on lenders that also go into effect in January, some have suggested that consumers may find themselves struggling to acquire a mortgage. Weinberg described it this way: Originating a mortgage has been a process that blends science and art. The science includes the regulations that give clear guidelines for what does and does not meet qualified mortgage standards. The art comes in when an originator decides to approve or deny a mortgage application, even if a borrower doesn’t meet every requirement in the book, because his or her experiences can give important context to a case that numbers and rules cannot.

“With this QM rule we’re seeing an elimination of the art and a focus on the science,” Weinberg said. “The way the points and fees will be calculated is now a pretty defined standard. My gut says because of the shrinking art component and the emphasis on the science, fewer people are going to qualify for loans.”

While the new regulations are beyond consumer control, there are several things potential homeowners can do to prepare for buying residential property in 2014.

1. Ask Questions

If this all sounds a bit confusing, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Both Findlay and Weinberg acknowledged the complexity of the new rules and said there’s confusion among lenders. For potential homeowners who don’t understand what these changes mean for them, there’s no shame in asking someone to explain them.

There are a lot of components to mortgages that first-time homebuyers may not be familiar with. Say a lender instructs you to reduce your debt-to-income ratio — that means how much of your income is tied up in student loan payments, collections accounts, judgments and other existing loan obligations. You’ve just learned that points and fees can’t exceed 3% of the loan balance, but what’s a point? A point, for the record, is prepaid interest on the loan, with one point equal to 1% of the loan. If a borrower would rather have a lower interest rate than the one they’re offered then they can pay points to lower that rate.

There’s bound to be something that confuses the borrower, and no one should enter into such a large financial decision with uncertainty. Ask a lender to explain it to you, but understand that the lenders are nailing down the new processes, as well.

“It doesn’t bode well for the consumer when there’s this confusion,” Findlay said.

It’s important to shop around for mortgages, and consumers should know that they can concentrate their mortgage search into a few weeks in order to minimize the impact on their credit scores. Inquiries are a major factor in your credit scores, and too many inquiries can hurt your credit. Mortgage inquiries made within that short period (which varies by credit scoring model) will count as a single inquiry on their credit reports, and because multiple inquiries would normally ding credit scores, this allows consumers to find the best offer without harming their credit profiles.

2. Tackle Debt

If you have debt, you should try to reduce it, and this is true for all consumers, not just those looking to buy a house. Potential homeowners, however, should be extra motivated to conquer their debt: Under new ability-to-repay requirements necessary to attain a qualified mortgage, a borrower’s debt-to-income ratio must be 43% or less, including the potential mortgage payment.

“Not only do we consider the debts that show up on your credit report, but we have to look at debts you may expect to pay in the future,” Weinberg said, giving the examples of child support and student loans in deferment. “They are also going to need to be comfortable and aware of managing that debt. They are going to be asked questions about that.”

Whether you’re looking to buy a home next year or in two years, make a plan to manage debts now. It can only help.

3. Start the Paperwork

Though these new requirements impact consumers, they also affect lenders, and no one wants to be the first to screw up. The ability-to-repay measures require a lot of documentation, which will need to come from you, the applicant.

“We’re really needing to get a very holistic perspective on the borrower in order to complete the analysis necessary to meet compliance,” Weinberg said. Borrowers should ask a lender exactly what they’ll need to provide, and in order to answer lenders’ questions, they should also take stock of their credit profile.

Consumers are entitled to a free annual copy of their credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. That’s three credit reports, so it’s smart to review at least one before starting the homebuying process.

No one is sugar-coating these changes — they’re a lot to handle. Changes are common in this post-crisis climate, so the best consumers can do is ask questions and do their part to prepare and educate themselves.

“If we’re making better loans, and the consumers are protected better, that’s better at the end of the day,” Weinberg said.



Posted on January 3, 2014 at 7:15 am
MJ Steen | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,

Here’s Why Noted Economist John Mitchell is Optimistic for 2014

By: Malia Spencer, Portland Business Journal

For the last several years economics watchers have been like Cubs fans, said Portland economist John Mitchell.

Wait until next year and next year will be the winning year.

Mitchell, a consultant with M&H Economic Consultants and former chief economist for US Bank, gave his overview of the economy and his expectations for 2014 to an intimate group of Technology Association of Oregon members Wednesday morning.

“The bottom line is it’s growing, but it’s growing slowly,” he said of the economy coming out of the Great Recession.

Because the recovery has been slow and steady instead of the faster pace of previous recoveries people have seen much of the same over the last three years.

However, Mitchell thinks that could be changing for 2014.

Unlike previous years there are a number of pieces falling into place that lead Mitchell to be more optimistic:

  • Less federal fiscal restraint. According to Mitchell we are living in uncharted territory with federal discretionary spending declining for the first time. He is looking at the cuts from the first portion of sequestration that hit this year cutting everything from medical research to defense to education. But, with news of a federal budget deal that restraint might be loosened in 2014.
  • Better balance sheets. Companies are stronger now and have the capital to invest.
  • Falling energy prices.
  • State and local governments are more healthy than in years past.
  • Housing is coming back. As of October of this year residential building permits were at 12,773 which is higher than all of last year, when permits hit 10,608, and well above 2010’s low of 6,868.
  • Improvements globally with Europe and China.



Posted on January 1, 2014 at 8:10 am
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Tips for a Successful Closing

Avoid actions that may impact your loan

• Avoid “shifting” your money from bank accounts

• Maintain your current employment / income source

• Respond quickly to all requests for information

• Keep residence, marital status, business ownership, etc., stable

• Do not obtain new debt – maintain your credit record and defer any major purchases

Things obviously happen unexpectedly, so the key is to keep in constant communication with all parties: mortgage consultant and real estate agent until the deal has closed.



Posted on December 27, 2013 at 8:03 am
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Average Days on the Market

Portland comes in below the U.S.A. average of 86 days on the market at a "mere" 67.

Posted on December 6, 2013 at 8:26 am
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