After a record-setting start to 2016, the region's housing market cooled slightly last month, but – in what by now sounds like a familiar story – the Portland area posted more closed sales than in any February since before the recession, according to the most recent report from the Regional Multiple Listing Service.
The 1,813 closed sales marked a 2.5 percent monthly decline, but they were still 10 percent higher than February of last year. It was the most active February since 2007, the report found.
Inventory didn't budge from the 1.8 months posted in January. The figure estimates how long it would take for all current homes on the market to sell at the current pace. It's only a slight increase over the exceptionally low 1.2 months the region saw in December.
"We're in for another crazy spring real estate market in Portland," said Lennox Scott, chief executive at John L. Scott Real Estate, in an email. "Six months ago, we predicted the major decline in inventory throughout the winter months that would create the intense market we are currently experiencing. It's like déjà vu all over again. We've seen this pattern for the last two years, but the lack of inventory is taking its toll; we are facing the most intense market yet."
In addition to January, December and July of last year also set records for closed sales, and the months in between posted the highest numbers the area has seen since red-hot 2005.
"This is starting to feel a little like a bubble," said real estate broker Dustin Miller.
The average price of a home rose 7.1 percent year-over-year in February, from $333,700 to $357,500. The median price increased by 7.8 percent over the same period, from $287,500 to $310,000.
Dustin Miller, a broker with Realty Trust Group, suggested in an email that there might be cause for concern in the housing market.
"This is starting to feel a little like a bubble, which I know many have hinted on," Miller said. "The key is a long-term hold. If you bought your house in early 2007, it is still worth more than it was when you bought at that height, in general, and that is pretty amazing for the ride we have been on for the past 10 years."
Southeast Portland was again the most active area tracked by the listing service, with 215 closed sales in February. Other hot areas were Beaverton/Aloha (174 closed sales), West Portland (165) and Milwaukie/Clackamas (163).