Buying a home in Portland has never been an exercise for the faint of heart.
After years of tight inventory and rising prices, home buyers have learned to steel themselves for rejection and loss and the sting of losing a home to a house flipper with an all-cash offer or an investor looking for a vacation rental. It’s a matter of adjusting their expectations and being willing to, say, waive inspections in order to get into a home.
We’re not saying that the blood sport of it all is going away here in the summer of 2022. But new numbers from the Real Estate Multiple Listing Service database, or RMLS, do suggest that the home-buying market might be on the cusp of a change.
In July, there were more active listings on the market in Portland than at any point since April 2020, when the market briefly slowed to a crawl during the area’s first pandemic lockdown. There are now two months' worth of inventory on the market—still well below the six months that signifies a balanced market, but better than in previous months, when the supply of available homes to buy was measured in mere weeks.
To be precise, there were 4,739 homes on the market in the Portland metro area in July, per the RMLS numbers, up from 3,180 at the same time last year.
And while it is still expensive to buy a house in Portland, the median sale price ticked down in July, to $566,000, a drop of $4,000 from the previous month. Houses are staying on the market ever-so-slightly longer, too—an average of 20 days, up from 18 in June.
Some of these changes, of course, are due to national factors. Interest rates on mortgages have been spiking, which has left some would-be homebuyers on the sidelines. (Mortgage rates are now around 6 percent, the highest they’ve been in years, adding thousands and thousands of dollars to the true cost of a home.) The federal government is unlikely to cut interest rates until inflation threats recede, which means that home prices will have to come down more than last month’s very modest drop for more buyers to return to the hunt.
What about if you’re selling a home? Locally, the days of fielding multiple offers might be over—unless, that is, you’re in certain, ultra-competitive niches of the metro area, particularly the Beaverton-Tigard area, where homes stay on the market for an average of two weeks, less time than anywhere else in the region.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re looking to be able to take a little more time with home-buying decision, houses are on the market for over a month on Portland’s west side (an average of 36 days) and nearly that long in Milwaukie/Clackamas (29 days), per RMLS.
The lowest prices in the metro area are still in Columbia County, where the average sale price in July was $479,400. The only other parts of the metro area where the average sale price was below $500,000 last month were in Washington state, including downtown Vancouver, Orchards, and Hazel Dell. By contrast, the Lake Oswego/West Linn market is the only part of the metro area where the average sale price topped $1 million last month. That doesn’t seem to have affected demand, though, with homes there selling almost as quickly as in Beaverton, Tigard and Wilsonville.