Top 5 Portland Real Estate Market Stories of 2020 (so far)

portland real estate market stories

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted real estate transactions in unprecedented ways in 2020, so it’s no surprise that most of our top news articles this year are related to that topic. But there have been a couple of other important stories that you may have missed in the crisis. Read on for everything you need to know about Portland real estate market in the first part of 2020.

1. Pandemic causes short Portland real estate crash, with near instant recovery.

Starting in March, people began losing jobs at an alarming rate, many others lost savings when the stock market plunged, and the need for social distancing seemed to make buying and selling real estate impossible on a practical level. On the ground here in Portland, we saw a sudden 60%+ drop in buyer traffic. Fewer homes went on the market. But then, as happens almost anytime there’s a major market change, there was a re-adjustment. In April, buyer activity increased again — not to the level it would be in a normal year, but a significant improvement of 40% over the previous month. Going into June we were seeing close to 80% of the normal buyer traffic here in Portland. It is now near 100% in early July 2020.

Why was there not a bigger COVID-19 impact on the Portland real estate market? There are a few reasons, one being that Oregon was not initially as hard hit by the pandemic as other states. We also saw very strong home prices and buyer activity early in 2020, and a lot of “essential” buyers and sellers who needed to move even though outside circumstances make it difficult. In addition, the Portland economy is strong (or at least was), and Oregon has added back about 1 out of every 12 jobs lost earlier in the crisis. For more information on the coronavirus’ impact on the Portland housing market, check out our most recent blog post here. And stay tuned as we continue to monitor market conditions through the summer. 

2. Socially distanced home buying / selling is the new normal.

Prior to the pandemic, our sellers’ agents were already utilizing 3D home tours, video tours and advanced professional photography to provide buyers with a virtual home shopping experience. Once it became necessary to avoid physically being in the same place at the same time, we were able to ramp up these efforts to provide a seamless socially distanced home buying / selling experience from start to finish. In addition to relying on virtual meetings and digital signatures, our buyers’ agents tour homes on behalf of clients, streaming video of the whole walk-through on their phones. Inspectors provide digital inspection reports, photos and even videos of problem areas. 3D virtual tours are the new standard for real estate agents everywhere.

What about listing a home with a Realtor while keeping social distance? It’s true that your real estate still needs to come to the home in-person to provide an accurate price recommendation, but sellers don’t need to be present when this happens. We can follow up virtually with a video call, and schedule return trips (for photos, 3D tour, etc.) to minimize the number of times sellers need to vacate the home. 

It seems that this devastating pandemic has had a silver lining of normalizing revolutionary new strategies in buying and selling real estate. These practices will save all parties involved time and money in the long run, and we believe 3D tours and other digital amenities will be the standard going forward. For more on how we can maintain social distancing while serving home buyers and sellers, go to the full article and video here. 

3. New map shows Portlanders at risk of radon exposure.

While staying home is the safest thing to do right now, homeowners need to be aware of how their home environment is impacting their health. Specifically, radon, an invisible and cancer-causing radioactive gas, might be tanking your indoor air quality. We reported in early June how new public health data shows more risk areas for radon popping up all over the map in Oregon. And studies are also finding that Portland home inspections are not giving homeowners an accurate view of their radon risk, because testing needs to take place over a longer time period. In addition, radon levels can fluctuate over time, but are easiest to measure in winter. Fortunately, radon mitigation is possible and cheaper than buying a new home, but testing is a vital first step. 

4. Homesnap makes MLS information accessible.

Real estate agents are usually wary of third-party apps and websites that provide listing information to home shoppers, because that information is not always inaccurate. But we like Homesnap, a mobile app that allows users to snap a photo of a house for sale and pull up real-time listing information directly from their local MLS. It seems that home buyers like Homesnap as well — it was named the fastest-growing real estate company of 2019 by the Washington Business Journal. In competitive real estate markets like Portland, having that real-time MLS information is crucial, and Homesnap provides it in an easy-to-use interface without any advertising whatsoever. Instead, they offer a subscription service for the Pro version of their app, available only to licensed real estate agents that are part of the local MLS system. This allows agents to not only communicate with potential buyers through Homesnap, but also access some of their cutting-edge tools. Is your real estate agent ahead on the latest technology and digital real estate listing tools? Check out our list of the Top Real Estate Websites of 2020

5. Homebuyers look for more space, amenities.

Before the pandemic hit, we were taking note of the fact that ranch-style homes sell faster and for more in Portland. Homebuyer preferences have been shifting toward the open-concept style over the past few years, and single-level or ranch-style homes fit the bill with the added benefit of allowing homeowners to age in place. 

Stay-at-home orders may have shifted that preference slightly, away from the open concept and toward more private spaces. But in a temperate climate like Portland’s, homebuyers also consider outdoor space as space, which means that ranch-style homes, which tend to come on larger lots, may still fetch a premium price. Other home amenities are also much more important, be it an extra room for a home office, central air, or large windows.

Stay tuned with us as we regularly report on every facet of the Portland real estate market, and if you every need top real estate agent assistance, please contact our team right away – don’t hesitate.

July 3, 2020

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.