WITH SUCH ECONOMIC SAGES AS WARREN BUFFETT predicting a housing-market turnaround by the end of 2011 and other experts—including Brian Wesbury, chief economist at First Trust Advisors—even suggesting a housing shortage soon, the fog of real estate might finally be dissipating. But given that Portland housing prices are still falling overall, the first glimpse of a brighter horizon in our annual real estate survey is best found in individual neighborhoods.
Homes in neighborhoods that offer shopping, schools, parks, and other amenities within walking distance have fared far better in the crash. Brookings Institution analyst Christopher Leinberger contends that these so called “20-minute neighborhoods” capitalize on what will soon be the three biggest drivers of real estate value: aging boomers, their children (both of whom increasingly prefer feet to cars), and rising oil prices. Accordingly, Portland planners are now quantifying walkability on a scale from 1 to 100, factoring in everything from nearby amenities to the slope of the streets and the width of the sidewalks. (See the new walkability column in our grids.)
Proof can already be seen in the Portland neighborhoods where the five-year change in median price is an increase. Vernon, Eliot, Goose Hollow, and Hollywood all posted a rise of 9 percent or better. (It’s no accident that all also boast high walkability scores.) And, even in the condo market bust, walkability still rules, with the more car-centric Lloyd District posting a 35 percent drop while the Pearl District slipped a mere 7 percent.
The cardinal rule of real estate still holds sway: location, location, location. But drill a little deeper into longer-term value, and it becomes clear that what really matters is what’s at the location: supermarkets, restaurants, transit, parks, schools, and entertainment.
Find the complete list of Portland housing and demographic data in our NEIGHBORHOODS BY THE NUMBERS feature.