Buying a Condo in Portland? 10 Things to Know in 2022.

portland condos for sale

The general consensus these days is that Portland is becoming too expensive for many people. It’s true that home prices have continued to increase at a noticeable rate over the past couple of years. It’s also true that condos have not followed the same price trajectory. That’s good news for condo buyers in Portland!

Our interactive real estate map shows all the great condos for sale in Portland. You’ll be surprised by how many there are even though we’re in the middle of the typical cool market we see every year at this time.

If you’ve been considering buying a condo in Portland, we want to remove some of the guess work for you. Here’s our list of ten things you need to know about buying a condo in Portland.

1. Portland Condos are Affordable (Comparatively)

Condos are a great way for first-time buyers to make their way into the market. They’re also a great option for those entering retirement who may face a decrease in income or want to downsize and focus on quality of life.

In our November, 2021 Portland real estate market update, we wrote about how the demand for single-family homes continued to be much higher than the demand for condos.

When we look at the current overview from Fidelity National Title for both homes and condos, we can see that while overall, it’s still a strong seller’s market, the opportunities for condo buyers is far different than that of home buyers.

Portland Condo Market (Nearly a Buyers Market)

Portland Detached House Market (Strong Sellers)

2. Condos’ Perks and Amenities Can Mean Long-Term Savings

Not only are condo prices generally lower than single-family homes—depending on various factors, of course—they also offer perks and amenities typically not found when purchasing single-family homes.

The obvious perk is a low home maintenance lifestyle. Not only will you not have yard work to contend with, the condo Home Owner’s Association (HOA) takes care costly updates and repairs. You’re spared the time and stress involved, and in the long run, you’re also spared the cost of big ticket items, which translates to long-term savings. Of course, you’ll make up for this in paying monthly HOA fees, but it can still help your financial stability to avoid major one-time repair costs.

Because condos are generally located in or near urban environments, another obvious perk is the close proximity to the city’s shops, dining establishments, cultural events, and mass transit.

Each condo complex is different, but you can count on a list of amenities when you live in a condo. Most have gyms or fitness centers, communal areas for socializing, and dedicated parking. Many also have meeting rooms for private events, and some have pools, sports courts, and concierge services.

3. Portland Condos Offer More Lower Priced Housing Options

When we took a look at pricing and sales trends from the most recent RMLS report, we found evidence that condos have not increased in price at the same rate as single-family homes.

NOTE: While median sales price is not a foolproof indicator of current sales prices—because one high-priced sale can skew the overall numbers—looking at these numbers can give us a relative sense of what’s going on in the market.

When you take a closer look at the listings available in Portland right now, at the time of this writing, there are 455 condos for sale, 135 of which are priced under $350,000.

4. Condos Can Be a Good Investment

If you’re looking for a starter condo that you can eventually sell at a gain, look for a well-situated building in one of Portland’s many suburban areas. Then check the HOA fees and reserves. As prices go up over time, the value of your condo will grow, but if you’re paying high fees to the HOA, it will be difficult to get a return on your investment.

Pro tip: Use our smart condo home search program that adds the HOA fees, taxes, and misc. cost to the sales price so you can compare the total cost of condo ownership in real-time as you search online. 

Construction has ground to a halt in Portland and rent prices are likely to continue to increase at a fast pace. Condos in Portland went out of favor after the pandemic, but the constant need for housing should make them a solid long term investment.

5. Condo HOA Fees Vary Dramatically

While being part of a HOA can save you the troubles and cost that come with home maintenance, the cost of monthly fees run the gamut. Monthly HOA fees can range from $200 to well past $1,000. It’s worth considering the impact of not just the monthly fee but what might be behind it. For example, an enticingly low monthly fee could indicate an HOA that holds you responsible for exterior maintenance, including the roof. On the other hand, a high-end monthly fee might mean you’re looking at an HOA that’s struggling to pay for a backlog of maintenance or repairs. (They kept the HOA fee too low for too long and now current owners are paying the price for past bad management.)

Of course, some HOAs offer great value for their fees, and others offer so many upscale amenities, they’re justified in their high-end pricing. Our best advice is to look at a few and pay attention to similarities and differences in each to give yourself a balanced viewpoint so you can make an informed decision.

One way to begin to get an idea of how HOA fees vary is to visit our website and do a search specific to condos. Simply select “Condos / Townhouses” from the “All” tab at the top navigation bar. Then, in the upper right-hand corner, click on the “Filter” tab and choose “HOA Monthly.”

To compare HOA fees in Portland, read our report: Average HOA Fees in Portland 2021. Are your HOA fees too high?

6. Condo Floor Plans Matter

Because condos are generally smaller than single-family homes, it’s a good idea to view several and pay close attention to the layout of each one. As you do walk throughs, think about how you use spaces in your current home and how that might translate into the new space. Also look at flow and ease of movement within the space. The last thing you want is to get into a condo and find that navigation from one area to another several times each day irritates you. And let’s not forget about how much natural light you need—something especially important for many in the Pacific Northwest—or whether there might be privacy issues due to the positioning of windows.

7. Condos Have a More Complicated Buying Process

Many people aren’t aware that buying a condo tends to be more complicated than buying a house. This is because there are more entitles involved: the seller, the buyer, and the HOA.

This means it can take longer to get through the approval process with the lender. Not only will your lender need to approve you, they also need to approve the HOA and the building. Most lenders will finance condo purchases, but some programs, like the popular FHA loans, will only finance pre-approved condo buildings in a given area.

See the FHA list of approved buildings in Portland.

8. Best Way to Shop for Condos in Portland

Platforms like Zillow and Redfin definitely serve their purpose. However, to make their sites work across the board nationally, they have to, in a sense, dumb down their data feeds. This means that potential home buyers might not get detailed, local information about the condos they’re interested in.

Another way to start shopping online is to visit PortlandHomesforSale.com and see what the one-of-a-kind VestorFilter™ can do. Here, can you create specific searches for condos and HOA fees. You can also search by best price per square foot, best price per bedroom, biggest price drops, set HOA fee limits, and much more.

Another important step in your condo shopping journey is to work with an agent that has excellent condo listing and buying experience.

9. Condos are a Green Choice

Many of the best Portland condo complexes are LEED certified, constructed with the highest levels of environmental scrutiny. Not only are the building themselves often built green with many energy saving features, they also tend to be built next to energy saving public transportation routes and within a few blocks of common amenities.

10. Make the Process Easier with a Condo-Experienced Agent

As we’ve said, buying a condo is a different animal than buying a home. For this reason, working with a licensed real estate agent who has already walked many others through the complicated process is essential. Not only will they be able to answer your questions, but they’ll also know when to point out considerations your might not be aware of.

We’ve been helping people buy and sell condos in the Portland Metro area for 18 years. We know the ins and outs of the process, and we know what local lenders want to see. Let us help you find the right condo for your lifestyle and needs and answer all your questions along the way. Give us a call today or chat with our bot on this site. We’d love to hear from you!

January 7, 2022
AUTHOR

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

4% max to sell a home in Portland and SW Washington.
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Over 2,000 homes sold.