Six Strategies for First-Time Portland Homebuyers

first time home buyer

Once in a while I try to stop, take a step back and ask myself: If I were a first-time homebuyer, how would I dive into the complex and exciting task of buying real estate in Portland, Oregon?

Portland home buyers today are inundated with choices and information, from the ubiquitous real-estate-agent-ad-on-a-bench, to 3D tours that launch from craigslist ads. With so much at your fingertips, here’s a quick rundown on what to do – and who to listen to – first.

1. Nail down your price range. It’s not just about getting pre-approved for a mortgage, although you’ll want to do that, too. But banks and lenders are good at luring home buyers into spending more than they intended. Being able to borrow $400,000 doesn’t mean you need a $400,000 home.

2. Get the scoop on the Portland real estate market. Savvy real estate investors watch the numbers — time on market, months of inventory, median sales price, and more — for the Portland market and a specific neighborhoods before they buy. Portland took a hit in 2008 when the housing market crashed, but we’ve been recovering ever since. That’s the big picture – the smaller picture is available through the monthly RMLS report, which you can subscribe to here.

3. Know your Portland neighborhoods. A condo in Northeast Portland may not be as swanky as that one in the Pearl District, but have you look at the neighborhoods’ walkability scores? Where’s the nearest hospital? The internet can tell you a lot, but the best way to get to know the neighborhood where you’re thinking of buying a home is to drive and walk around yourself.

4. Ask questions. There are no stupid questions when it comes to making a commitment to buy your first home. Real estate agents are great because we don’t mind being bothered by your phone calls and emails, whether you’re confused about the escrow process or have a question about the house you looked at last week. You should also ask as many questions as possible of the sellers’ agent, your mortgage lender, and the home inspector!

5. Be realistic about home improvement. You might be talked into buying a home (either by yourself or by the do-it-yourself-er in the family) that needs some repair to be perfect. Ask yourselves: Do you have experience completing the needed tasks? Does your schedule allow time for these projects? I’m not saying that fixer-uppers can’t offer great deals that allow you to put your own personal touches on your home. Just think it through first. If you need sobering up, bring a contractor you trust through the Portland home with you.

6. Use a Portland real estate agent. When you buy a home in Portland or anywhere, you want an experienced professional on your side. While there are plenty of online tools to help you find everything from home values to aerial photographs, you can’t beat the friendly, knowledgable support of a Portland real estate agent when it comes to finding the right home and negotiating the deal. Contact me if you’re ready to get started!

March 31, 2014

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.

4% max to sell a home in Portland and SW Washington.
4.25% max to sell a home in Salem and Bend.
Over 2,000 homes sold.