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Portland Home Buying Tips

5 Tips for Buying a Home in Portland, OR: 2020 Update

Summary: Are you thinking of buying a home in Portland, Oregon some time in 2020? If so, this is a big investment that requires careful consideration and a bit of research. After all, you want to put your best foot forward, and understanding the market in Portland this year is a great way to do that. This article with outline some tips for buying a house in Portland in 2020.

Portland, Oregon is a fairly competitive real estate market in Oregon, as of winter 2020. While things may have slowed down over the past few moths compared to years past, Portland still remains a relatively strong real estate market and will continue to be throughout 2020.

Local home buyers need all the advice they can get in order to ensure a successful real estate transaction. Here are five tips for buying a home in Portland, fully updated to reflect 2020 real estate conditions.

1. Realize that the Portland real estate market has changed – a lot.

Portland, Oregon home buyers need to realize that the local real estate market has changed significantly over the last couple of years. House values have risen while inventory has shrunk. And both of these trends will affect you as a home buyer.

According to the real estate information website Zillow, the median home price in the city rose to around $454,600 in February 2020. That was just a modest increase of 0.6% from a year before, but it’s still a bit higher than where it was last year, and is much higher than where it was just a few years ago.

Despite a rather slow year for home prices in Portland over the past year, the rate of increase is expected to pick up the pace over the next 12 months. Zillow predicts that home prices in Portland will increase 2.3% over the next year.

So the first step to buying a home in Portland is to understand the current nature of the real estate market, including recent changes in house prices. The local housing market has gotten more expensive over the last couple of years, so you need to enter it with a realistic sense of what you can afford.

Related: How to Find the Best Starter Home in OR

2. Inventory is tight, so be prepared to move quickly.

In a slow real estate market, home buyers have plenty of time to look at houses, consider pros and cons, and put an offer together. But Portland’s real estate market is picking up the pace in 2020. While it may be a neutral market right now, things are expected to speed up in the home price appreciation department, especially with inventory being as tight as it is.

On the contrary, homes across the metro area have been selling at a rapid pace due to limited inventory. So when buying a home in Portland, Oregon, buyers should be prepared to move quickly when the right property comes along.

Related: Low inventory could lift prices

Real estate experts consider a “balanced” real estate market to have around six months worth of supply. Recent reports showed that the Portland housing market was well below that, with just over a 3-month supply of homes.

As of February 2020, most properties sell after the first offer and sell on average in about 30 days. Right now, the temperature of the market in Portland is rather neutral, making this an ideal time for buyers to make a move and buy a home before prices start to increase over the coming months.

Live Portland Mortgage Rates Jan, 16, Sat, 2021

3. Make a smart offer based on recent sales data.

As mentioned, Portland is currently in a neutral market. That means that the market is still rather competitive, but not as competitive as it was a few years earlier. In a market like this, buyers may be able to bid on homes with prices that are slightly lower than the asking price. While “low balling” isn’t necessarily recommended when making an offer on a home in Portland in 2020, there may be opportunities to start just under asking price and negotiate from there.

The key to success is to make a strong first offer that is based on comparable sales data. In other words, you want to offer an amount that is realistic based on what people have paid for similar homes within the past few months. An experienced real estate agent can help you with this.

4. Expand your horizons beyond buying a home in Portland.

You might have to be flexible with regard to where you’re buying a home. Portland might be your first choice, but you shouldn’t discount surrounding cities that offer lower home prices.

Low inventory and rising house values are pushing some buyers into surrounding areas beyond the city of Portland. Some are looking across the river at Vancouver, Washington, to take advantage of lower home prices.

Related: Vancouver, Washington Housing Market Trends and 2020 Forecast

Buyers can benefit from being open-minded and flexible in a hot real estate market. You might not find the kind of home you need within your budget within the city of Portland. But such houses could be more plentiful across the broader metro area. And with the relatively short distance between Portland and some of these “bedroom” communities, there’s no reason why you can’t get what you want in a home and neighborhood at a price point you can afford.

5. Get pre-approved for a home loan before shopping for a house.

Most people who buy a home in Portland, Oregon use mortgage loans to help finance their purchases. If you fall into this category, you should consider getting pre-approved for a mortgage loan before entering the housing market.

Sellers will expect you to have your financing arranged before you even make an offer to buy a house. So a pre-approval letter from a Portland mortgage company can go a long way toward increasing your chance of success.

Pre-approval is a kind of pre-screening process, where a mortgage lender reviews your financial situation to determine how much you are able to borrow. This helps you in several ways. Sellers will be more inclined to accept your offer if it comes with a pre-approval letter. Additionally, you will be able to expedite your house-hunting process by narrowing the field to a specific price range.

Further, final mortgage approval will be more streamlined because much of the paperwork needed to assess your ability to secure a mortgage will already have been submitted and reviewed by the lender. All that would be needed after all this is to have the lender look over an accepted offer between you and the seller and an appraisal on the home. As long as there have not been any major changes in your financial profile, you will be a lot closer to sealing a deal.

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Have Mortgage Questions?

Have you been contemplating buying a home in Portland in 2020 and need a mortgage to finance it? Call Sammamish Mortgage, a mortgage company serving home buyers across the Pacific Northwest for more than 28 years. We provide mortgage programs for borrowers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado, and we’d love to help. Please contact us if you have questions about getting approved for a mortgage loan in Portland, or if you would like to receive a rate quote.

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