Gearing up to buy your first condo in Portland, Oregon? It’s a smart move. Portland is a great city, and condominium life is a good way to experience it without the maintenance hassles of a traditional detached home.
But there are some things you’ll want to know before you start shopping for your first place. Here are five tips for buying your first condo in Portland.
Did you know? The median home price in Portland reached $400,000 in April 2018, for the first time ever. (Source: Regional Multiple Listing Service)
1. Get pre-approved for a mortgage
If you plan to pay cash for your condo, you can skip this part. It doesn’t apply. But if you’re like the vast majority of buyers who need mortgage financing, then read on!
The Portland condo market is very competitive right now, as of spring 2018. That’s largely due to a shortage of supply. (Lots of condo buyers in the market, not enough properties to go around.) So it makes sense to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan before you make an offer to buy a condo in Portland.
Being pre-approved helps you in two ways. It helps you narrow down the condo market to the kinds of units you can actually afford. It also shows the seller that you’re serious about buying, and that you’ve been “screened” by a mortgage lender already.
2. Research (and understand) condo association fees
Most, if not all, of the condominium projects in Portland, Oregon charge fees. These condo association fees can be a turnoff for some buyers. But they shouldn’t be. The funds go toward the maintenance and upkeep of the property, which is a necessary expense.
All properties have upkeep expenses. If you were to buy a detached single-family home, you’d still end up paying maintenance fees over time. The difference is that with a condo, someone else is doing the maintenance work for you. When buying a condo in Portland, you could end up with lower maintenance fees — and a lot of less work.
You want to know about the association fees when buying your first condo in Portland. That much is obvious. But it’s equally important to understand how those fees benefit you as an owner.
3. Consider the value of all condo services and amenities
Condos in Portland, Oregon often have additional services and amenities that residential homes do not. Fitness areas and pools are a common example.
Condominium projects can vary quite a bit in terms of the features and benefits they offer. What’s the parking situation? Is there recreational space that adds value to the condo unit? Are there community areas for dining and entertaining?
When buying a condo in Portland (or any other city), you have to look at all of the value-adding features — not just the square footage.
4. Keep an eye out for pre-construction pricing
In some cases, builders and developers will offer price reductions during the early stages of construction (i.e., before the condo is actually open to residents). This is an enticement to bring in buyers during the development stage, when it’s harder to sell units.
As construction progresses, and as the opening day approaches, demand tends to rise. So prices can go up as well. This is often how it works. So if you take advantage of pre-construction pricing, you could save money on your condo purchase. Something to look out for.
5. Be ready to move quickly when the right property comes along
Housing inventory in Portland, Oregon is tight right now (as of 2018). It has been for several years. This is true for both detached homes and condos. It’s the kind of market where buyers need to move quickly with a strong offer, to avoid losing out to another buyer.
We talked about the importance of pre-approval earlier. But there are other things you can do to increase your chance for success in a competitive market. Research the market ahead of time. Get an experienced real estate agent on your side. And be prepared to make a strong offer supported by your research.