Portland Real Estate Market Update February 2021

Portland home prices have been on the rise for the past several years. But we’re not alone. Home prices across the nation were up an average of 10% in 2020, according to the Washington Post and Attom Data Solutions. So how is Portland shaping up? Keep reading to learn how much it costs to buy a home in Portland today and how that’s changed in recent months.

Median Sale Prices for Homes in Portland

Our most recent RMLS monthly data reveals that the average sale price for a home in the Portland metro area in January 2021 was $514,700. This number is an increase of only $700 over the average price in December 2020. Before we start thinking of it as negligible, though, let’s also take a look at median sale price.

A quick reminder: while neither is perfect, it’s useful to take both average and median sale and listing prices into account. Typically, average prices will be higher. This is because high priced properties become “outliers.” In layman’s terms: a huge number can easily skew the average to be higher than what most home buyers are actually in the market for. For example, if one week a 5 million dollar home happens to sell, the average price will see a much more drastic shift than the median price. Keeping an eye on the median, then, helps you keep a finger on the pulse of the market.

The median sale price for a home in the Portland metro area in January of 2021 was $460,000. This is an increase of a 1.1% from December 2020 and a not insignificant increase of 13.3% from a year ago. According to these numbers, Portland’s increase in real estate prices seems to be moving at a pace on par with the national average.

Cost of Portland Houses Versus Condos

As we’ve noted before, the demand for houses has been much higher than the demand for condos in Portland for months. While on average condo prices will typically be lower, the market is still reflecting the difference in demand at the moment.

The median list price of Portland homes has been on a steady increase over the past year, rising about about $100,000 from February of 2020 to the current average of $700,000. (Yes, much larger than the number quoted above; this number specifically reflects the listing price of homes, not including condos, in Portland proper.) The price of a house in Portland went up fairly steadily starting at the onset of the pandemic in early 2020. Where you might normally see a seasonal dip in listing prices, the median listing price keeps increasing.

graph of Portland median house prices

Recent weeks show a slowing of this increase, but it hasn’t stopped yet. Meanwhile the median list price of condos has stagnated, returning to nearly exactly where it was a year ago at $400,000. Before we blame the pandemic for the lag in condo desirability, though, take note that the market for condos in Portland cooled off in 2019. But it has notably not regained much steam.

Graph of median Portland condo prices

Average Days on the Market for Homes in Portland

Listing prices can’t tell you everything because they don’t necessarily reflect what homes are selling for. Another insight into how homes are moving (or not) is the number of days listings stay on the market.

It’s normal to see an upswing in the average number of days homes stay on the market at this time of year, and this year is no exception in that there has been an uptick. However, it’s been an extremely measured one, and when you compare the average days on the market to previous years, the difference is striking.

RMLS data tells us that the average time on the market for homes in January 2021 was 44 days, down from 74 in January of 2020. That’s a whopping decrease of over 40%. As we’ve noted previously, Portland saw a significant drop in inventory over the past weeks and months, which has generated some anecdotal evidence of bidding wars driving prices up. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what forces are at work here, but looking at the numbers we have, we see hints that fast sales may have been driving low inventory.

The number of active residential listings in January was 1,972, down from 3,715 this time last year. That’s a decrease of nearly 50%.

Graph of active residential listings in Portland

So this must mean there are fewer homes on the market, right? Maybe not. Let’s compare this graph with the number of new listings in January:

Graph of new listings in Portland

Yes, fewer properties went on the market in January of this year compared to last. But the difference sits around 500 listings – not nearly enough to account for the difference in active of listings of nearly 1,800. How all of this will play out as we look to a future free of the pandemic remains to be seen. But if the demand for homes in Portland continues as it has in recent months, house prices will likely continue to go up.

Notable Trends in Portland Housing Prices

Of course, not all neighborhoods and suburbs of Portland saw the same changes over the year. The Lake Oswego/West Linn area continues to come out on top when it comes to property value. The average sale price of a home in Lake Oswego in January was $812,700, and they saw one of the highest increases in average sale price at 11.6%.

Hillsboro and Forest Grove, on the other hand, saw more steady growth at 5%, the lowest in the Portland metro area. This indicates a stabilization in home prices that could pay off for a savvy buyer. Gresham/Troutdale remains one of the most affordable areas in Portland with an average sale price of $409,300. Perhaps not surprisingly, they also saw a lot of demand, with homes going off the market at an average of only 30 days.

Outlook for Portland Home Prices in 2021

At the moment, the median list price for homes in Portland appears to be stabilizing. That being said, price per square foot continues to go up, even for condos (though at a more measured pace).

Graph of price per square foot for houses in Portland

There’s been no slacking off on that front, so it’s likely that property values in Portland, which have remained strong throughout the pandemic, will continue to grow. And with the condo market primed for a comeback, we’re sure to see some excitement as 2021 unfolds.

Whether you want to take advantage of Portland’s desirability by selling your home or by finding a new home of your own, we’re ready to work hard for you. Check out our top 1% buyers agents and our top 1% sellers agents today.

February 16, 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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