Portland Real Estate Market Report: March 2021

We’ve been following the low inventory in the Portland real estate market for a while now. But now that we’re into March – marking a year since the pandemic came into being full tilt – we’re also likely looking at a huge change in inventory on the horizon. We believe that a lot of folks have been holding off on listing their home during Covid-19. On top of that, as unfortunate as it is, foreclosures will likely spike once stays on foreclosing end, which will happen eventually.

So while low inventory is one of the biggest Portland real estate market news stories so far in 2021, a wave of new inventory may be the next big story. Let’s take a look at what the newest information tells us about the Portland real estate market right now.

New Listings for Portland Still Lag

According to the newest RMLS data, the number of new listings dropped by 4.1% between January and February of 2021. Even worse, the difference in inventory in the Portland real estate market between February of 2021 and 2020 is striking – a 10.3% drop. And RMLS’s determination of inventory, which determines the ratio between active listings and closed sales, puts them neck and neck. Compare this to February of last year, when that ratio was 1.9.

Given these numbers, there’s no doubt that the Portland real estate market still suffers from low inventory. But with the vaccine rolling out, that may spell a big change in the coming months.

Active Portland Real Estate Listings Tell a Different Story

Just as we saw last month, the difference in 2021 between active listings and new listings as compared to other years is pretty huge. In February of 2020, for example, only a few hundred more homes came on the market than did this past month. And it’s typical to see a dip this time of year.

RMLS new listings graph

However, the gap between active residential listings at this time last year and now is at nearly 2,000. That means that while new listings are still coming on the market, the inventory has been nearly cut in half.

Active residential listings graph

Demand may still be outweighing supply in Portland right now, pandemic or no. Our localized information shows a sharp spike in lockbox activity during the past couple of weeks – meaning more people are going to look at homes. Whether it’s because they’ve been vaccinated during the push for herd immunity the past few weeks, or just because the weather is nicer and the holidays are behind us, people are getting out there and checking out homes. Lockbox activity is up by 10.8% from last week.

SentriLock Lockbox Activity graph

Comparing this weeks numbers to this same time last year, which had just over 20,000 people accessing SentriLock lockboxes, we’re looking at an increase of activity of a few thousand home tours. Meanwhile, days on the market keeps decreasing – down to 42 from 44 in January, and from 68 in February of last year. It seems likely, then, that demand is still revving faster than supply can keep up.

A lot remains to be seen, as it’s likely sellers will feel more comfortable depending on how quickly the vaccine is distributed. Realtor.com predicts that a wave of new inventory likely won’t come until the latter half of the year. But with Portland on the forefront of getting that needle in people’s arms, it could come sooner than expected. Once again, it is hard to say.

Portland Condo Market Warms Up

Another big Portland real estate news story for the year: the condo market has been notoriously cold. We’ve written here before about why that could be. Likely the pandemic didn’t exactly amp up desirability for living in a building with limited access to outdoor space. But also the Portland condo market was cooling off before Covid-19.

But could that be changing? The median list price has pretty much stagnated over the course of the month, true. At the moment it sits at a 90 day average of $402,000, up only $3,000 from this time last month. On the other hand, though, the median sale price for condos has seen a significant spike between January and February.

Median condo sale price graph

In addition, the ratio of active condo listings to closed is at the lowest it’s been all year. This may partly be because inventory of condos has been seeing a decline in the past couple of weeks. But on the whole condo inventory has been on the decline since November. And we’re not seeing the huge disparity between active and closed condos that we saw over the summer, in the heart of the pandemic. Condos could be on the comeback.

Active and closed condos - RMLS draft

Regional News in the Portland Real Estate Market

Let’s check in with some local areas and see how the real estate market has fared in micro. Lake Oswego/West Linn still tops the chart for the highest increase in sales price. Last month they came in at 11.6%, but February saw an even 13%. Tigard/Wilsonville and Southeast Portland also saw jumps in the double figures. But while it didn’t make that group, North Portland saw one of the biggest increases percentage-wise. Up from a 6.9% to a 9% increase, you’re looking at over two percentage points. We’ll have to see how North Portland fairs in the coming months, but we’ve certainly go our eye on it.

In the Portland metro area, Beaverton/Aloha and Hillsboro/Forest Grove came in with the lowest median sales price at $465,400 and $468,700 respectively. Lake Osewgo/West Linn, unsurpringly, claims the highest median sales price.

And since we’re on the subject of inventory, the only area that has more active listings than new listings is West Portland. What that tells you is that there might be more homes in West Portland that take longer to sell – think luxury.

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March 12, 2021

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.

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