Summary: When you’re on the prowl for a new home, it’s not just the structure itself that you should be looking at, but also the location itself. The question is, should you buy in Washington State or Oregon? This article will help you make that decision.
With its natural beauty and strong job markets, the Pacific Northwest attracts residents from all over the country. Those looking to buy a new home have plenty of amazing locations to choose from in the region, including Washington and Oregon. But many find themselves asking the same question: Should I buy a home in Washington or Oregon? Here’s an updated look at housing costs when buying a home in Washington State versus Oregon in 2020.
Buying a Home in Washington vs. Oregon
At the statewide level, home values in Washington and Oregon are not too far off from each other. Let’s take a closer looking at how buying a Washington home compares to buying a home in Oregon.
Buying a Home in Washington
According to the real estate information company Zillow, the median home value for Washington State was $419,900 in March 2020. That was an increase of 4.9% from the same month a year before. The company’s economists are predicting a similar pace of appreciation going forward, with an outlook that home prices will rise 4.8% over the next 12 months.
Buyers who buy a home in Washington will be able to take advantage of an increase in home equity along with this rate of appreciation. Buying sooner rather than later will also help buyers avoid paying more next year.
Buying a Home in Oregon
According to the same source, the median home price in Oregon rose to $366,500 in March 2020. That was 2.8% higher than in the same month a year earlier. The company is forecasting a gain of 3.8% over the next 12 months, extending through March 2021.
Again, considering the fact that home prices are expected to rise in the next few months, it might make sense to buy a home in Oregon sooner rather than later.
What About Income Taxes?
Income taxes are another consideration when deciding whether you should buy a home in Washington or Oregon. And there’s a clear difference here. Washington is one of only seven states in the country that do not charge income tax. Oregon, on the other hand, does charge its resident’s income tax. Oregon however does not charge a sales tax on purchased goods, while Washington has a sales tax as high as 10%.
While these taxes are not directly related to housing costs, they do affect how much house you can actually afford to buy.
So when you look at the states as a whole, buying a home in Washington versus Oregon is comparable from a cost perspective. However, if you zoom in on the most populous cities within each state — Seattle and Portland — the cost gap widens considerably.
Seattle Versus Portland Home Prices: Big Difference
Seattle is by far the most populous city in Washington. Portland holds that distinction within Oregon. When you compare the cost of buying a home in Seattle versus Portland, there is a much more clear distinction. So, how do the real estate markets in Seattle and Portland compare to each other? Let’s take a look:
Buying a Home in Seattle
According to Zillow, the median value for a home in Seattle is $752,100, which is actually slightly lower than the price at the same time last year. Prices have slid 0.7% over the past 12 months in Seattle. That means buying a Seattle home is slightly less expensive today than it was last year.
But even though prices in Seattle have dipped over the past year, Zillow expects them to take a different direction and increase 3.9% over the next year. That means the market in Seattle is heating up a little this year. If you wait until next year to buy a home in Seattle, you could find yourself spending a lot more than you would if you jumped in the market today.
So, how does buying a house in Seattle compare with buying in Portland?
Buying a Home in Portland
Like Seattle, home prices in Portland have also dipped slightly over the past year. More specifically, the average price in Portland slipped 0.1% over the past 12 months and currently stands at $455,700. As you can see, prices in Portland are much lower than those of Seattle. That means it’s cheaper to buy a home in Portland compared to buying in Seattle.
Portland home prices are also expected to pick up the pace this year and are anticipated to rise by 2.4% over the next 12 months. Again, this means that buying a Portland home will cost you more if you wait until next year to buy as opposed to buying today.
More affordable homes can be found outside of these major cities. In a previous blog post, we looked at some of the more affordable real estate markets surrounding Seattle. Once you move outside of these cities and into the surrounding areas, house values drop tends to drop considerably.
Continued Low Interest Rates Make Buying More Affordable
Not only are the prices of homes important when it comes to affordability, but so are interest rates. A lower interest rate can make it possible to buy a more expensive home that may be impossible during times of higher mortgage rates.
Today, mortgage rates are incredibly low and are expected to remain under the 4.0% mark throughout the duration of 2020. Considering this now may be a fantastic time to lock in at a low rate to help make your mortgage more affordable for you to fit your budget.
Need a Mortgage in Washington or Oregon?
If buying a home in Washington State or Oregon is on your agenda for this year, you’ll need a mortgage to help finance this big purchase, and Sammamish Mortgage can help. Based in Bellevue, Washington, we offer mortgage financing to home buyers in both Washington and Oregon, as well as the greater Pacific Northwest. We’ve been serving borrowers for about 28 years and are able to offer highly competitive rates on a variety of mortgage programs — including FHA, VA, and conventional loans. If you have questions or are ready to apply for a mortgage, contact us today!