1. Biggest one-year price growth
Given its hefty appreciation from 2006 to 2007—housing prices jumped 34 percent (20 percent more than the city average)—Sylvan Highlands might have appeared a haven for flippers. But any flipper looking to elbow in on the action in this hilly Southwest community just off Highway 26 must compete with those who love the neighborhood’s proximity to family-friendly destinations (the Oregon Zoo, the West Hills Racquet and Fitness Club, and Forest Park are all within walking distance) and arboretum feel (there’s nary a paved sidewalk nor a straight street in the heavily wooded ’hood). “The community is fiercely proud of how rustic the area has remained,” says Windermere agent Laurie Whittemore. Which means residents are ready to defend their patch of Doug Fir-shrouded paradise from the flippers looking to cash in quick. —SW
Where mountains meet metropolis lies the 900-acre flurry of activity that is the Northwest District.
2. Most homes for sale over $500,000
Where the mountains meet metropolis lies the 900-acre flurry of activity that is the Northwest District. Amid upscale boutiques like Lush (where you can buy $40 bars of soap) and hip sipping spots like St Honoré Boulangerie (where you can pair a cup of French roast with French apple turnovers), you might encounter renegade types pedaling 10-foot-tall bikes, 8-year-olds hawking lemonade in front of gingerbread-esque Victorians, and well-heeled residents walking bichons frises like leashed accessories. But farther west, the bustle recedes as the crammed city streets slide into tree-lined avenues that amble westward toward 5,156-acre Forest Park. “If there’s one word to describe Northwest Portland, it’s ‘diverse,’” says longtime resident and Windermere real estate agent Dan Volkmer. “Expensive” might be another. Indeed, in 2007, this district boasted more homes priced over $500,000 than anywhere else in Portland. But with easy access to the streetcar, MAX and five bus routes, Northwest residents can save some cash at least in one department: gas. —Brian Barker
3. Best five-year price growth
If there’s one reason the 632 full-time residents of this 26,000-acre island have seen their home values jump 129 percent since 2002, it’s this: Everyone wants a piece of Sauvie, and there aren’t many pieces to go around. In fact, most of the land is given over to large farm tracts (which explains the sparse, 0.1-person-per-acre population density), although you can also find floating homes, old farmhouses and a few condos—along with 12,000 acres of wildlife refuge lands—all 16.5 miles north of downtown. “You have privacy here, with more agricultural splendor than you could ever imagine,” says longtime resident and Windermere broker Cherie Sprando. Of course, during summer, things get more crowded as city dwellers flock to the island’s shores to swim in the Willamette. And when Sauvie’s namesake bridge, fresh from a $38 million makeover, reopens this fall, the visits are apt to increase. But for most of the year, the residents of this pastoral ’burb delight in life’s slower pace and a wealth of natural beauty—like, say, views of the mountains framed in their kitchen windows. —SW
4. Most homes for sale under $300,000
"It has an undiscovered feel,” says architect Chuck Stalsberg of this working-class neighborhood near Gresham. That’s one way to describe what has traditionally been a rather gritty area. But times may be changing. (Hey, NoPo was once gritty too.) Stalsberg just finished building a few homes here, and in March, the Portland Development Commission and HOST Development completed a small collection of affordable townhouses and single-family homes at SE 118th and Schiller. In fact, this hotbed for first-time home buyers boasts the most homes under $300,000 in Portland. So what do you get for your money? Room to grow. Lots can run up to half an acre—about twice as big as the average city lot—and they’re mere biking distance to 603-acre Powell Butte Nature Park. Granted, your acreage might include a ranch-style home in need of renovation, and the nearest shopping center might be a strip mall, but if rising home values have priced you out of the market, Powellhurst-Gilbert offers an attractive alternative. But move fast: With a MAX line extension opening here in September ’09, the secret is bound to get out. —BB
Schools in Healy Heights give kids top-notch educations, without the private-school price tags.
5. Fewest days on the market (tie)
The consummate example of Old Portland’s marriage to urban renewal, Hollywood is teeming with residents eschewing Truman Show_-esque suburban living in favor of a ’hood with equal parts beauty and bustle. A tiny hamlet unto itself (locals refer to their busy stretch of NE Sandy Blvd as “downtown”), the neighborhood boasts plenty of shops within walking distance (stroll to the farmers market or to the gloriously preserved, 1920s-era Hollywood Theatre) and sits near the almost 20-acre Grant Park. Add to that its close proximity to MAX, a nearly straight shot to I-5, and the leafy charm of Hollywood’s wide streets, and it’s easy to see why everyone wants to live here. Last year, houses averaged a mere 23 days on the market, 43 fewer than the city average, and according to former resident and real estate agent Jerry Poirier, the buyers aren’t coming just in pairs. “You literally cannot find a street here that isn’t full of kids and dogs,” he says. And, apparently, moving trucks. —_SW
One of only three Portland neighborhoods whose elementary, middle and high schools consistently make straight A’s on the Oregon Department of Education’s yearly assessments, this West Hills community near Council Crest has become a destination for prosperous parents looking to give their kids top-notch educations, without the private-school price tags. Not that cost is really an issue: The average home here sells for a hefty $776,400. But even at those prices, Healy homes sat on the market for an average of only 23 days last year.
And not just because of the schools: Residents also enjoy a three-minute commute to downtown (no freeway required) and narrow, shaded streets lined with quaint 1950s ranch- and Craftsman-style homes. Plus, with zero violent crimes reported in 2007, Healy Heights is that rare, close-in ’hood where parents can rest easy about sending the kiddies out to play for those much-needed study breaks. —SW