Portland Metro Area Home Prices
The housing market is far less rational than even the often irrational stock market, for a couple of important reasons. First, most investors find it difficult to understand how housing supply responds to changes in demand. Only a small minority of people think carefully about such things. Second, it is very hard for the minority of smart-money investors who do understand such matters to bet against bubble-level prices in real estate markets. In housing, the smart money has relatively little voice. Robert Shiller, Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University, in a New York Times article published in July 2015, explained why The Housing Market Still Isn’t Rational.
Portland’s a Terrific Value. Will it Last?
The Portland Business Journal and its sister papers nationwide collected local market pricing data on more than 40 products and services and published the results on October 16, 2015, in an article titled “Portland’s a terrific value, Will it last?” Below are some excerpts from the article.
“Portland has long had a cost advantage over Seattle and San Francisco. Most big-ticket items — from home prices to office leases to child care — are more affordable in Portland.
We ranked No. 78 out of the 106 markets studied for purchasing power, determined by using a market’s average salary, adjusted for cost of living. It would be easy to assume from that ranking that our purchasing power is relatively weak, but keep in mind that more than three quarters of the metro areas studied are considerably smaller than Portland, and therefore have lower costs of living.
A couple of high points: Portland ranked No. 23 for average pay, which is in line with our job market rank of No. 24; and our average five-year-growth rate in jobs (1.2 percent) and pay (1.9 percent) exceeded the averages for all 106 cities.
Portland’s affordability relative to larger cities likely contributed to that strong performance. Economic development agencies statewide have been using Portland’s affordability to aggressively recruit companies from high-dollar markets.
The strategy is working, particularly in the tech sector. California-based Google, SalesForce.com, Airbnb and eBay all have Portland outposts and collectively employ well over 1,000 workers. Startups like the targeted email provider Customer.io and rental management software maker Cozy have relocated their companies from New York and San Francisco, respectively, to take advantage of Portland’s lower costs and availablity of talent.
While Portland’s affordability and overall livability are fueling a robust economic expansion, the in-migration is creating tension. Housing prices and rents are both soaring, sidelining many prospective buyers and leaving renters vulnerable to being priced out of the market. Thirty percent of all home sales registered by the Regional Multiple Listing Service in Portland in 2014 were all cash, a trend driven by investors and deep-pocketed new arrivals from other West Coast cities. The reality is many low and middle-wage Portlanders can’t compete.
The good news is relief could be in sight.”
Monthly Newsletters that Track Portland Metro Area Home Prices
- Moving to Portland Monthly Newsletter Summary report of the Portland metro area housing market to include latest home prices, sales activity, mortgage information, weather data, and more. This summary extracts information from the detailed Regional Market Listing Service (RMLS) report for a quick read of the Portland metro area housing market. The newsletter is emailed to subscribers mid month.
- RMLS Report of the Five County Portland Metro Area Home Prices For those that want details about the five county (Oregon counties) Portland metro area home prices. Published by the Regional Market Listing Service (RMLS) monthly. You can download and save this report. Reports available from 2009 to present.
- RMLS Report of Oregon and Southwest Washington State Home Prices Detailed report about housing prices for all areas in Oregon and Southwest Washington (Clark County). Published by the Regional Market Listing Service (RMLS). You can download and save this report.
The above reports are usually posted by mid month. The RMLS reports are usually released and posted on the Moving to Portland homepage website between the 13-15th of each month.
June 2015: New Highs in Home Prices for the Portland Metro Area
The average sales price set a new high in June 2015 from the previous peak in August 2007 by $2.600. The new high is $369,500 whereas the August 2007 was $366,900. The median sales price jumped $18,000 from its peak in July 2007. The new high is $320,000 and the 2007 price was $302,000. But prices quickly returned to a more normal level after the summer home buying spurt as the median price was $304,700 and the average price was $349,000 for homes that sold in September 2015.
12015 Portland Metro Area Home Median Price up 8.1% over 2014
- New listings (40,815) were up 8.4%
- Pending sales (34,568) were up 22.5%
- Closed sales (33,307) were up 20.0% during 2015 compared to 2014.
Just 1.2 months’ worth of residential properties were for sale in the Portland area at normal rates of sales, according to December 2015 figures from the Regional Multiple Listings Service. That’s lower than at any time since 1999. As of the end of December 2015 there were a total of 3,381 active residential listings in the Portland metro area. The inventory often takes a seasonal dip in December.
The 33,307 homes sold in Portland in 2015 took an average of only 54 days to close, down from 70 days in 2014. Low central-city inventory, coupled with continued in-migration of young professionals, helped speed up the sales cycle.
22015 Price Summary
- Average Sale Price Percent Change: +6.5% ($354,500 v. $332,800)
- Median Sale Price Percent Change: +8.1% ($308,000 v. $285,000)
Below are the sales price percent changes in December 2014 from their peak prices in 2007:
- Average Sale Price Percent Change from peak in August 2007: -3% ($354,500 v. $366,900)
- Median Sale Price Percent Change from peak in July 2007: 2% ($308,000 v. $302,000).
1The Portland metro area figures above encompasses these five counties in Oregon: Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, and Yamhill. The Regional Market Listing Service (RMLS) report includes separate data for Southwest Washington Clark and Cowlitz counties.
2For details about the 2015 home prices in the Portland metro area you may want to view the December 2015 RMLS Market Action report.
2015 Neighborhood Highlights
The Portland Business Journal reported on the 25 fastest selling neighborhoods (ZIP codes) in their January 14, 2016 edition. Below are some of their findings:
- Of the 25 most-expensive neighborhoods, 15 fell inside the city of Portland’s boundaries with the rest in surrounding cities and suburbs that are part of Portland’s statistical area as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Eight ZIP codes eclipsed the $500,000 mark for average home price, up from just four in 2014.
- The 25 most-expensive neighborhoods accounted for just over 38 percent of all home sales in 2015 (105 area ZIPs recorded at least one sale in the year).
- In an impressive showing, five ZIP codes made all three of the top-25 lists for sales volume, speed and price: 97202 (Sellwood/Eastmoreland), 97229 (Forest Heights/Bethany), 97211 (Piedmont/Concordia), 97213 (North Tabor/Hollywood) and 97217 (Arbor Lodge/Kenton).
Here are the top five Portland-area neighborhoods (zip codes) that garnered the highest home sale prices in 2015:
- 97034 (Lake Oswego): $751,198
- 97212 (Irvington/Grant Park are neighborhoods in Northeast Portland): $632.972
- 97210 (Northwest District neighborhood in Portland): $584,641
- 97221 (Sylvan-Highlands and Bridlemile neighborhoods in Southwest Portland): $572,768
- 97201 (Downtown neighborhoods in Portland): $546,970
Zip Code Map is easy to use. Just click on a Portland neighborhood or community and the map will display the zip code(s) for the area.
City of Portland Prices
In West Portland (Includes Southwest and Northwest Portland and parts of eastern Washington County), the average price was $495,100 in 2015, $470,200 in 2014, $444,300 in 2013, $412,300 in 2012, $384,800 in 2011 and $410,200 in 2010. The average sales price change was 5.3% in 201.
The three other areas in the city (North, Northeast, and Southeast) all showed increases in both average price and median price in 2015. Here are the numbers:
- North Portland The average price was $335,000 and median price $319,600 in 2015 and the average sales price percent change was 14.8% (the largest gain in the metro area).The average price was $291,300 and median price $278,000 in 2014. The average sales price percent change was 10% in 2014. The average price was $266,800 and the median price was $250,000 in 2013. In 2012 the average price was $229,000 and the median price $220,000. The average sales price percent change in 2013 was 16.2%, the third highest of any area.
- Northeast Portland The average price was $376,700 and median price $329,400 in 2015 and the average sales price percent change was 8.3%. The average price was $348,800 and the median price was $306,000 in 2014. The average price was $326,700 and the median price was $282,000 in 2013 — the average sales price change was 13.5%. The average price was $288,000 and the median price was $250,000 in 2012 — the average price increased 8.0% over 2011. The average price was $266,900 and the median price was $229,000 in 2011 and that was a decrease of -5.8% from 2010.
- Southeast Portland The average price was $330,100 and median price $283,000 in 2015 and the average sales price percent change was 9.0%. In 2014 the average price was $303,900 and the median price was $260,000 — the average sales price change was 13.6% (highest of all areas in the Portland metro area). The average price was $269,900 and median price was $235,000 in 2013 — the average sales price change was 16.9%. The average price was $230,800 and the median price was $196,000 in 2012 — the average price increased 7.4% over 2011. The Average price was $214,700 and the median price was $181,500 in 2011 and that was a decrease of -9.7% from 2010.
Suburban Communities Prices
All of the suburban communities saw single-digit average sales price percent change in 2015 except Mt. Hood — the highest was Sherwood/Tigard/Tualatin/Wilsonville with 9.6%.
In Lake Oswego and West Linn, the average price jumped from $529,600 to $541,80 in 2015 but the increase in home values from 2014 was only 2.8%. These two communities saw the price of an average home decreased from $482,100 in 2012 to $428,500 in 2013. In 2013 the average sales price change was 11.0% for these two communities. All the communities showed double digit percentage increases from 2012 — the largest average sales price change was 18.0% for Beaverton and Aloha. See the chart below for figures.
Portland Metro1 Residential2 Home Prices 2008-2015
Average Sales Price
Median Sales Price
1The metro area includes the following Oregon counties: Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, and Yamhill. It does not include Clark County in Washington state.
Source: Regional Market Listing Service (RMLS)
Communities Average Home Prices and Sales Price Change 2011-2015
City of Portland
West (Includes SW and NW Portland and NE Washington County)
Corbett, Gresham, Sandy, Troutdale
Clackamas, Milwaukie, Gladstone, Sunnyside
Canby, Beavercreek, Molalla, Mulino, Oregon City
Lake Oswego and West Linn
Northwest Washington County or Sauvie Island
Beaverton and Aloha
Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, Wilsonville
Hillsboro and Forest Grove
Mt.Hood: Brightwood, Government Camp, Rhododendron, Welches, Wemme, ZigZag
Outlying Oregon Counties
1The Portland metro area includes these Oregon counties: Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, & Yamhill. Note that it does not include Clark County (i.e., Vancouver, WA) in Washington state.
Source: Regional Market Listing Service (RMLS™)
Portland Monthly Magazine Annual Neighborhood Guide
The Portland Monthly magazine features neighborhoods in their April issue every year. It has tons of information about neighborhoods to include their pick of the best neighborhoods for the year.
To help those in the housing market, the magazine combines all the data from 120 neighborhoods and communities in the Portland metro area. Include in the story are housing prices, school ratings, demographics, crime statistics, parks, commuting information, and services. For the past three years, Portland Monthly has been cautiously optimistic about Portland’s metro area slow-simmering real estate market.
To visit the magazine’s website 2014 stories and numbers visit their Real Estate section — click on “Neighborhoods” to view the numbers for the Portland 90 plus neighborhoods and click on “Suburbs” for the numbers on 26 communities in the metro area.
Street Trees Increase Home Prices in Portland
In a paper published in Landscape and Urban Planning, Geoffrey Donovan of the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station found that, on average, street trees add $8,870 to a home’s sales price and reduce its time on the market by 1.7 days.
Donovan and his co-author, David Butry of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland, reviewed data meticulously collected from 2,608 homes for sale in east Portland in the summer of 2007.
What they found was that if a house had street trees and tree canopy close by, that increased the sales price of a house and it sold faster. And that finding, they note, has some public policy implications. Calculating the increased property tax revenue to the city and comparing it to the expense the city bears maintaining street trees, the authors estimate street trees have a benefit to cost ratio of 2 to 1. “In Portland, the benefits of street trees significantly outweigh their maintenance costs,” they write.
Other Sources of Housing Information
Portland State University Quarterly Real Estate Report
The Portland State University (PSU) Center for Real Estate publishes the PSU Quarterly Real Estate Report each quarter. The first issue covered the last quarter of 2006. You can find copies of the report at: PSU Quarterly Real Estate Reports
The report is the product of a collaborative effort by the PSU Center for Real Estate and the Oregon Association of REALTORS® to provide service to the local community. The intention of the report is to provide useful information about trends in commercial and residential real estate to the real estate community in Oregon and Southwest Washington. It is very comprehensive and covers the local economy as well as housing.
The report is made possible thanks to a donation by the Oregon Association of Realtors® along with the participation of RMLS, Cushman & Wakefield, Norris Beggs & Simpson and Grubb & Ellis.
Since 1978, DataQuick has built a reputation as a provider of real estate information. Although much of DataQuick’s information is available only to its paid subscribers, some of the information at their Web site is accessible to all visitors. The site covers the California market extensively but it also releases quarterly information on the Portland housing market.
Urban Boundaries and Home Prices
The cost of housing is one of the most contentious issues related to Portland’s metro planning. With an median sales price over $300,000 in 2015, this is beyond the reach of many people.
Does the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) cause Higher Home Prices? (see Portland Planning and Growth for a discussion of UGB). The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) desire more land on which to build homes. In their document called The Truth About Regulatory Barriers to Housing Affordability the NAHB identified 42 markets with barriers, Portland being one of these markets. They called the UGB the “Wall of Portland” and attack it accordingly. The Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland, has been among those critical of Metro for being too restrictive in its UGB.
2000 Census Bureau figures indicates that the density in downtown Portland has increased by 30 percent, which is what planners had in mind. Only a few cities in the USA have increased their core city population.
Applying Science to the Debate Sightline Institute, an environmental organization located in Seattle, used some science to compare urban sprawl in Clark County in Washington State and Portland. Clark County is just across the Columbia River and part of the Portland metro area. Sightline used satellite imagery of open space, farmland and pavement, along with digital mapping of US Census data to track patterns of growth during the 1990s. They found that if Portland had taken the same approach to land-use planning as Clark County in the 1990s, an additional 14 square miles would have been developed. Click here to read the full report.
For a review of Washington State’s Growth Management Act, visit the 1000 Friends of Washington Web site.
Rating Portland’s Density
A study released in August 2003, called “Measuring the Health Effects of Sprawl,” commissioned by Smart Growth America, a national advocacy group, and financed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a health promotion group, found that U.S. adults who live in compact cities are more likely to walk or bike to work, school, stores and other everyday destinations than they are to drive. This translates to slightly lower weights and blood pressures.
As part of the study, researchers from Rutgers and Cornell universities used six variables, including housing density and block size, to create a “sprawl index” for 448 urban counties across the United States. The index was set with 100 as the average; more sprawling counties had lower scores.
New York’s boroughs had the least sprawl – especially Manhattan, with a score of 352. The most sprawling place was Geauga County, Ohio, near Cleveland, which scored 63.
Multnomah County (where the city of Portland is located), the Northwest’s most compact county, ranked 24th densest among the 448 urban counties, just missing the top 5 percent.
Groups with Different Positions on Housing Costs
Read the opinions of the Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland group that advocates a free-market approach.
1,000 Friends of Oregon feels that the Oregon regulations work well. 1000 Friends of Oregon is a nonprofit charitable organization, founded in 1975 by Governor Tom McCall and Henry Richmond as the citizens’ voice for land use planning that protects Oregon’s quality of life from the effects of growth.
Oregonians in Action (OIA) is a non-profit lobbying organization that leads the fight for land-use regulatory reform and protection for private property rights. OIA authored two ballot measures in 1998: one to require landowner notification and another to give citizens the right to petition for legislative review of “bad state regulations.” In 2004, OIA passed Measure 37, a constitutional amendment that requires compensation to landowners.
Compare Cost of Living Between Metro Areas
There are a number of free sites that allow you to compare living costs between metro areas but the numbers don’t always make sense. We recommend using the ACCRA Web site (the acronym means nothing it was created by a group of US Chamber of Commerce researchers years ago). It’s a member organization whose mission is strictly research. For under $20 you can compare the cost of living with where you’re living to five other USA/Canadian metro areas.
Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO)
The Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992 mandates that FHFA publish a House Price Index (HPI), a measure designed to capture changes in the value of single-family homes in the USA. It also includes a HPI in various regions of the country, individual states, and the District of Columbia. You can view the HPI by the state of Oregon and by the MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area).
National Association of Realtors (NAR)
NAR is the “Voice for Real Estate.” It is America’s largest trade association, representing one million members, including NAR’s institutes, societies and councils, involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Their “Existing Home Sales Data” measures the health of the residential real estate industry. Each month, statistics on sales of existing single family homes are reported for the national and four regional levels. Statistics on existing condo/co-ops are released quarterly, and figures on existing single-family home sales (detached and condo/co-ops) by state are released quarterly.
- The Community Development Network CDN is an association of nonprofit community development organizations in Multnomah County located in Portland, Oregon. Their Web site states that “CDN strives to strengthen nonprofit community development organizations and to provide a collective voice for healthy, diverse communities.”
- Home Ownership a Street at a Time (HOST) 3835 NE Hancock, Suite 101, Portland OR 97212. Phone 503-331-1752. Fax 503-961-9924. HOST is dedicated to providing affordable homeownership opportunities for low- to moderate-income families. HOST believes strong, healthy communities are created and sustained when homeowners have a stake in their neighborhoods.
- Housing Authority of Portland HAP is committed to providing safe, decent and affordable housing to individuals and families in Multnomah County, Oregon, who face income or other life challenges. HAP offers support through a wide variety of programs and services. HAP’s Web site is designed to educate citizens about these programs and services, and to share how HAP is working to build a stronger community.
- Oregon Housing and Community Services OHCS helps low and moderate-income families in Oregon buy their first home by providing below-market rate financing and cash assistance through its Residential Loan Program. The program’s below-market rate helps eligible families increase their home purchasing power and lowers their monthly house payments. Eligible borrowers will have two options to choose between – CashAdvantage Home Loan or RateAdvantage Home Loan.
- Portland Bureau of Housing & Community Development Their goal is “To make Portland a more livable city for all by bringing low-income people and community resources together.”
- Portland Housing Center The Portland Housing Center is certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as both a HUD Certified Counseling Agency and a HUD Certified Non-Profit Provider of Secondary Financing. It offers resources on how to buy a home.
- U.S. House and Urban Development – Oregon HUD’s mission is to increase homeownership, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination.
- Washington County Department of Housing Services Extensive information for finding affordable homes in Washington County (west side of Portland).