By Elliot Njus, the Oregonian / OregonLive
The Portland-area housing market cooled off in July, thought would-be buyers likely won't feel much relief. More homes went on the market while the number of sales slowed. Even so, the supply of homes for sale remained slim overall, and prices moved higher. The median home price rose to $391,000, up 11.4 percent from a year earlier. The 2,776 homes sold in July represent a drop of nearly 20 percent from a year earlier, in part reflecting the slim supply of homes for sale. Pending sales were also down 5.5 percent from July 2015, suggesting the sales slump will continue into at least late summer. But homes listed on the market sold in an average of 30 days in July, two weeks faster than a year earlier. If sales continued at the same clip, every home on the market would sell in 1.9 months, well short of the six-month supply that indicates a market balanced between willing buyers and sellers. Current conditions indicate a strong seller's market, which is driving prices higher. Sales activity jumped in the North of 26 area of Washington County and the Tigard-Wilsonville area. But supply-constrained areas in North Portland, Hillsboro-Forest Grove, Gresham-Troutdale and Lake Oswego-West Linn all saw above-average price increases.
Fact: Portland median home sale prices surged more than 11 percent this past year.But even more dramatic increases—24 percent in Parkrose?!—percolated along the city’s outer east side, west side, and industrial fringes. The lesson: if you want to understand Portland’s market, you have to study the whole map. To get your feet wet, we extract 19 timely findings below:
- Find some of Portland’s biggest 1-year price jumps on its edges: Hayden Island, East Columbia, Linnton, and far southwest.
- Citywide, median rent rose just 3 percent. But zoom in, and you’ll see spikes in commuter zones like Arbor Lodge, Eastmoreland, Southwest Hills, and South Portland. (Buckman is still your best bet for cheap rent.)
- Where the kids are: University Park. Their elders make home in Maplewood and Hayden Island.
- The east side’s best location for public transit fans? Kerns is just the ticket.
- Dunthorpe (not officially a neighborhood, but starting this year we’re calling it one) fetched the city’s highest median home sale price—$1.192 million.
- Good things come in small packages? Buying downtown costs a steep $396 per square foot.
- In Sylvan-Highlands, median household income rose $20K in 2015—making this West Hills hood our wealthiest.
- The City’s median 2015 sale price—$340,000—has shot up 45 percent since 2011.
- Five percent more Portlanders commuted by bike or foot in 2015 than the previous year. (We also have a few new public transit options—hello, Orange line!)
- 10,838 Portland homes sold in a blistering 33-day average. (That’s 11 days less than in 2014.)
- Parkland covers 15 percent of Portland—making the metro areas’s largest city also its greenest. Almost. (Next year, Fairview!)
- Out-of-towners are flocking to downtown, but also to Northeast Portland’s Argay and Parkrose.
- Priced out of Portland’s rental market? Try Estacada.
- Gladstone homes are market stars, with a large price spike (nearly 20 percent). Since 2011, they’ve risen 51 percent.
- West Linn, so safe!
- Cornelius: chock-full of young families.
- Get the most home for your dough in Troutdale.
- Low-density Sauvie Island lets you stretch your wings—for a price.
- McMinnville averages 61 days for home sales—slowest in the metro area.
Home values in the Portland area continued to grow faster than any other metro area in the nation for the sixth straight month in March, according to the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller home price index, released Tuesday.
The local market in March posted 12.3 percent year-over-year gains in home values, which was the largest increase by a significant margin among the 20 metro areas surveyed. Seattle (10.8 percent) and Denver (10 percent) were the only other two regions to post double-digit annual gains.
"It remains a tough home buying season for buyers, with little inventory available among lower-priced homes," said Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow, in an email. "The competition is locking out some first-time buyers, who instead are paying record-high rents."
Portland's inventory has been historically low recently. The latest report from the local Regional Multiple Listing Service showed inventory at a miniscule 1.4 months in April. The figure estimates how long it would take for all current homes on the market to sell at the current pace. (Six months of inventory indicates a balanced market.)
Prices have also reached record highs; the average sale price in the Portland area was $397,700 in April and the median reached $350,000.
Nationally, home values in March posted annual gains of 5.2 percent, the Case-Shiller report found, down from 5.3 percent the previous month.
"Home prices are continuing to rise at a 5 percent annual rate, a pace that has held since the start of 2015," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee, in a news release. "The economy is supporting the price increases with improving labor markets, falling unemployment rates and extremely low mortgage rates."
Blitzer added that the number of homes currently for sale is "less than two percent of the number of households in the U.S., the lowest percentage seen since the mid-1980s."
"The Pacific Northwest and the west continue to be the strongest regions," Blizter said.
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).
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