Portland 2016 Home Values: Urban vs Suburban

portland urban housing market

Where are Portland homes more valuable, out in the suburbs or in the inner city?

Twenty years ago, that question would have been tough to answer because home values were roughly the same on average between rural, suburban and urban areas. Actually, some suburbs were more desirable and therefore more expensive than the inner city. For example, Lake Oswego, an affluent suburban area to the Southwest of Portland, used to be more expensive than West Portland. That’s just not true anymore.

Zillow released a report earlier this year that breaks down the numbers, starting with the national real estate trends. According to the report,

“On a per-square-foot-basis, homes in urban areas nationwide used to be worth roughly the same as suburban homes, before a gap started emerging in the late 1990s which has become progressively wider over the past roughly two decades. Currently the gap stands at 24.5 percent, with suburban homes valued at $156 per-square-foot and average U.S. urban homes worth $198 per-square-foot.”

The gap may be similar but the numbers are higher for Portland. March 2016 showed urban Portland residential real estate selling for $269 per square foot and Lake Oswego (just to pick an example of one of the many Portland suburbs) at $242 per square foot. The more working-class suburb of Milwaukie was $200 per square foot and semi-rural Troutdale was $168 a square foot.

Another interesting piece of data from the Zillow research is the historical price stability of rural homes compared to suburban and urban homes. The price-per-square foot difference between rural homes at the height of the Portland real estate market in 2007 and the most recent low, in 2012, is only about $20. Urban Portland home values fell three times that amount in the same time period. And of course, all areas have recovered nicely in the past three years.

As a real estate agent, I don’t advise my clients to shop from data alone. “Location, location, location” still applies! If suburban life — quiet, spacious, family-friendly — appeals to you, that’s where you should buy. If you’re looking for an urban lifestyle, head there if you can afford it. The neat thing about Portland is that the lines between urban, rural and suburban are increasingly blurred. There are micro farms in the suburbs and great venues for the arts in rural areas. Even urban spaces can feel less so when you escape to one of our many parks and green spaces.

The bottom line of this research, to me, is that Portland home prices are pretty reliable across the board. No matter where you look to invest your money, you’ll find that real estate is a good choice. The most important factor in getting a good deal is having a great buyers’ team on your team. I’ll help you understand the numbers and move quickly in this fast-paced market. Summer’s almost here — let’s start shopping!

May 16, 2016

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. and a top 1% agent in the Portland Metro. Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales in the Portland Metro area. Call him direct: 503-714-1111.

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