Portland Condo Ownership: FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

portland condos to buy

Who lives in Portland condos?

Everyone! Families and pet owners, community-minded people and folks that want privacy. Really, most of the stereotypes you hear about condo living are untrue — there are condo communities that will be a good match for just about anyone, but it’s a good idea to take a close look at the Homeowners’ Association rules before you buy.

Nationally, there are two distinct demographics who are especially excited about condos right now. One is millennials — twenty and thirty somethings just out of college or starting their careers. For them, condos are an affordable option in Portland, and they know they won’t have to spend extra time or money on maintenance because it’s all covered (usually) by the HOA. The second group is baby boomers and retirees, and they love condos for pretty much the same reasons that millennials do. Another advantage is that condos often have fitness facilities and community groups so that residents can stay healthy and social as they age.

Are there Portland condos available in my price range?

Condos come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges, in most if not all Portland neighborhoods. Condos have a reputation as being an affordable choice, but if luxury and prime location are your top priorities, there are options in the in upper price ranges as well. In fact, while finding a detached home in downtown Portland, the Pearl District, or South Waterfront may be nearly impossible, new high-rise condo buildings in these neighborhoods are filling the gap with jaw-dropping units overlooking the city.

Inventory for condos is great right now, too, making it more likely for home shoppers will find a unit in their ideal budget and neighborhood. As of January 2018 there were over 400 condos on the Portland market, up from 300 in the same month last year.

Are Portland condo rules and restrictions tolerable?

The answer, of course, is different for everyone. Some people like it when rules are clearly defined and everyone abides by them, while others prefer a little unpredictability. How well you know yourself and your habits is the best way to decide whether a condo could be right for you.

Your best source of information is the condo Homeowners’ Association, or HOA. They keep a list of Rules and Restrictions, outlining everything from how outdoor spaces should appear to quiet hours. Also, check out our list of Questions to Ask Before you Buy a Condo.

Just like people, condos and HOAs are diverse in how they function. When you find a unit that interests you, try to talk to some of the neighbors.

Aren’t HOA fees a burden?

All homeownership comes with costs. In fact, for a first-time homeowner, these costs can often lead to derailment when limited budgets come up against unforeseen home repairs on top of regular mortgage and homeowners’ insurance payments.
The best safeguard against getting in over your head financially is to be able to plan ahead. Condos make it easy: Fees are relatively consistent (if there’s an increase it takes some time to go into effect), and they typically cover all exterior projects like new roofs, pest control, and driveways.

Should I rent an apartment or buy a condo?

Are you going to stay in Portland for more than three or four years? In that case, yes, buying a condo may make a lot of sense. In Portland, rental availability is tight and rents are high, while mortgage rates are still low. Buyers often find that they pay less on their mortgage than they would to rent, and with the same advantage of buying any other home: It’s an investment, not a throw-your-money-away situation.

Unfortunately, many renters won’t take the leap to condo ownership in Portland because they are either unsure about the process, or they have the perception that there will be a lot of red tape and extra fees. Having a real estate agent is the best way to overcome those hurdles. It’s our job to get people into homes, meet our top 1% buyers agent here.

What qualifications should I be looking for in a real estate agent?

Glad you asked. Because condos can have a lot more complicated rules attached to them than detached single-family homes, having a real estate agent who has worked with condos before is a must. Ideally, the agent you choose should have experience on both the buyers’ and sellers’ end of the sale more than a handful of times.

Having a buyers’ agent who is well connected in Portland also helps. We can direct you to the mortgage lender, title officer, and home inspectors who are the best in the industry — saving you a lot of headaches and potential extra costs.

Is a Portland condo as good as a home for investment purposes?

As a general rule, condo values in Portland rarely go down. However, about ten years ago, we saw a huge housing market “adjustment” that lowered the value of the large majority of Portland homes. In fact, condos were hit harder than single-family homes, losing more value overall. That means that today, there are still a number of condos on the Portland market that are a decent buy. Although I’m not a financial advisor — just a real estate agent — I think condos can be as good as detached homes for real estate investment purposes. With inventory in the Portland housing market low and economic factors pointing toward ongoing growth, condos are becoming an even more popular option.

How do I look for a Portland condo?

The best way to start your condo search is simply by contacting our buyer’s agent. We’ll have a list of matches to your email inbox faster than the Portland Max train will get you to downtown.
That said, most people prefer to browse listings online themselves, so we’ve made it easy — and the data on our real estate search tool is better than the commercial competitor’s. Just go to PortlandRealEstateMapSearch.com and enter your favorite Portland neighborhood or outlying city in the box. You’ll see a huge number of search results, but filtering is your friend. Filter the search for Condo by clicking on the “Type” button in the red bar on the top right corner. Then, add more filters by clicking on the “More +” button. You can filter by the number of levels, whether or not there is an HOA, fenced yard and more!

April 2, 2018
AUTHOR

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.

Pay less (4.5% commission max.) and get more with his top 1% listing team or buy your next home with his excellent top 1% buyer’s team. We work from Salem, Oregon to Vancouver, Washington and beyond. Check out our full services areas on the top menu.