Portland Condo Guide: 2019 Edition

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Portland is not known as a condo city, but they can be a great bargain for those who need a home here without all the responsibilities of a detached dwelling. If your lifestyle is more focused on work and play than on replacing a roof or taking care of a lawn, you might enjoy the carefree condo lifestyle. Condos can also be fantastic green living choice. Your footprint is much smaller and you are often in walking distance to shops, restaurants, and potentially even your office.

Although new condo units have been slow to come on the Portland market over the past decade, developers are once again breaking ground to bring more condos to the metro area. And it seems that condo owners are ready to sell: The condo market has seen a 50% increase in the number of active listings since a year ago, according to the most recent real estate market action report. The cooled off Portland condo real estate market means opportunity for home buyers in this segment.

Condos are on the move, are you ready to buy? Here’s our Portland real estate agent guide to getting into a condo this year. 

  1. Ask yourself the tough questions. Are you ready to invest in a communal property? That’s really what a condo is — in fact, the word “condominium” was created from the Latin con- (“together”) together with the root word for “domain”. It literally means “shared property”, because though everything inside a condo is yours, the roof, exterior walls and everything outside (generally speaking) is the property of the condo association. By purchasing a condo, you’re joining in a common agreement to maintain the entire property (be sure to read all the paperwork, each complex is different). For most people, this is a benefit — your participation in the decision-making process is voluntary, but needed maintenance happens either way.
  2. Get an experienced buyer’s agent specialist with lots of condo experience. Buying a condo (or townhouse, which can be a style of condo) in Portland is different than buying a  detached single-family home. Condo transactions must take into account the added rules and restrictions of the homeowners or condo association. You’ll want someone on your side who is experienced in both the buyers’ and sellers’ end of the sale. They can direct you to the home inspectors, lenders and other industry professionals who also understand the particularities of condos — saving you a lot of headaches and potential extra costs.
  3. Research the HOA. Just as homes themselves have quirks and hidden costs, so do homeowners’ associations. There are non-HOA condos out there, but they’re uncommon, so be prepared to research the HOA just like you would look into the integrity of the condo itself. Examine the organization’s bylaws and old meeting minutes. How quickly are decisions made? Are the rules being enforced? Most importantly, ask for the most current financials, and check to see if the HOA has enough in reserve to cover unexpected costs.
  4. Don’t buy a condo to flip. There just isn’t the demand for condos in Portland as there is for single-family homes — but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t change as Portland’s population grows. Many people love condos and enjoy the urban lifestyle they offer. For now, though, condos in Portland are a better investment for those willing to hold on to them for five or more years.
  5. Budget accurately. Compared to a single-family home, condos overall cost slightly less to live in. Up front, they typically cost less to insure, are more efficient to heat, and pay less in property taxes because they tend to be smaller than homes with similar amenities. On the other hand, you’ll want to look carefully into the HOA fees and what they cover. For more on single family home vs condo affordability in Portland, check out our blog post. 
  6. Shop smart. Start with our easy search tool at portlandhomesforsale.com. Enter the city or area and click on “type” to filter for condos. When you find some that look interesting, be sure to schedule a walk-through with your agent. Small spaces don’t photograph well, and photos can be deceiving! Even if you fall in love with a condo online, it can be very different in person. 

Portland’s Hottest New Condos

According to Portland Monthly, close to 5,000 condos were built in Portland between 2005 and 2008, during the “building frenzy” leading up to the Great Recession. Then, the market took a nosedive and only 794 condos were built in the ten years since! Although many new highrises have gone up in Portland, the vast majority of them are new apartment buildings.

Despite the cooling Portland condo market, new high rose condos are still upcoming and underconstruction in 2019. Let’s take a quick tour of the new developments upping the bar for Portland condos.

Carbon12 Portland

This exciting and beautiful structure is an eight-story condo building in Northeast Portland’s Mississippi District. Carbon12 has been lauded for its use of eco-friendly cross-laminated timber. Residents enjoy generously sized units and underground parking with an automated valet. 

TwentyTwenty Portland

Also located in Northeast Portland, in the Sullivan’s Gulch neighborhood, TwentyTwenty claims to be “steps away from about 20,000 area jobs”. Like Carbon12, the development is banking on green credentials, impressive architectural qualities and access to the urban amenities of the “inner east side”. Shops, restaurants, schools and parks are all within a car-free commute.


Over in the Pearl District, just north of Downtown Portland, this new high-rise is a mix of residential and commercial units. With 153 condos, however, it’s not shy about its goal of making more housing available in the inner city. The Pearl is an arts and business hub right on the Willamette river, and VISTA residents will enjoy river and mountain views as well as downtown convenience.

Looking for a condo in a different part of Portland? Ready to trade in your single-family home for life in the urban center? Our top 1% real estate team is here to help both buyers and sellers.

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