Located in the northwest part of Oregon, Portland is the state’s largest city. Residents here enjoy four distinct but mild seasons. For people who love the outdoors, the city has plenty to offer, from camping, fishing, hiking, and river rafting to wind surfing and rock climbing. There are 94,000 acres of parks, and the Mt. Hood ski slopes are just an hour’s drive away. The city has been voted the greenest in the country for several years.
Smaller Number of Homes for Sale in Portland
Along with the rest of the country, homes for sale in Portland experienced shrinking values. Last year, the average sales price for homes dropped 27 percent from their peak in 2007, said Jolynne Ash, principal owner of Prudential Northwest. But the tide is turning.
“Our market is very much a sellers’ market now,” Ash said. “We are experiencing multiple offers on homes, and it’s been that way for five to six weeks now.” With the inventory dwindling and buyers getting competitive, finding the perfect home has suddenly become very challenging, Ash said.
Portland Neighborhoods to Consider
Portland offers both city and suburban living. The Willamette River runs through the city, dividing it into two distinct areas. On the east side of the river are homes dating back to the early 1920s, which were built in the north-south grid. If you like the city lifestyle and like to walk to the grocery store and pharmacy and don’t want to rely on driving to take you places, you may want to consider the east side. Public transportation is very well connected. Homes in the area are a lot older compared to the other parts of the city, so you probably won’t find properties with master suites or a family room off the kitchen.
“Right now southeast Portland is the hottest market in the city,” Ash said. “Homes there are selling in one or two days with multiple offers. It’s an awesome time to sell.”
If you are the suburban kind with a love for bigger homes and sprawling neighborhoods, you may want to consider the west side. Homes here were first built in the 1970s on bigger lots, Ash said. The newer homes were built between 1990 through 2005 featuring contemporary style structures on regular-shaped lots. Stores and other amenities are accessible by car. Also, you could buy more in terms of size here with your money than on the east side, which is more expensive.
Finding the Right Portland Home for You
In a competitive market, finding that dream home has suddenly become very challenging. Here are a few things to consider to be ahead of other buyers, according to Ash.
Examine your credit report: Before you start your home search, make sure your credit history is in order. Pull up a copy of your credit report and correct any mistakes. Don’t buy a car or open up a new credit card account before you apply for a loan. You want to be in a strong financial position when you approach a lender.
Get fully pre-approved for a loan: In a tight competitive market, it’s important that you have the resources lined up before venturing out and looking at homes. Once you have an approved loan, you will know which areas and what kind of homes you can afford and concentrate on rather than having a broad territory to work with.
Work with local lenders: Local and regional banks and mortgage brokers and credit unions are more customer service oriented than the giant banks, Ash said. “I do not favor the big four banks,” she said. “Big lenders are not service oriented and you are mostly dealing with calling centers instead of an individual.” The other problem with out of state lenders is they do not know the local players such as title companies, etc.
Hire a good real estate agent: In an aggressive market, you need a buyer’s agent who will stay on top of the market. Search online and get recommendations from friends, family and co-workers on local real estate agents. Supply is very low in the market right now, Ash said, and prices are climbing up. So, you need an agent who is aggressive and has the necessary tools to guide you through the process. Make sure the agent provides services such as texting or e-mailing you updates on new homes entering the market.
Plan long term: If you buy now, plan on owning the home at least five to seven years. “Buying and selling a house is really expensive,” Ash said.
The dream house is not always attainable, so know the things that you absolutely won’t compromise on. Drive around the neighborhoods and talk to residents. Check out the local farmer’s market, the grocer, the library. You may have to forgo the desire to have that extra bedroom, but location is one thing you wouldn’t want to compromise on.