5 Tips for Buying a Home in Portland, OR: 2021 Update

August 4, 2017
Last updated:
February 26, 2021
Tips for Buying a Home in Portland OR MarketUpdate

Are you thinking of buying a home in Portland, Oregon some time in 2021? 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.

Portland, Oregon is a fairly competitive real estate market in Oregon, as of early 2021. Home prices in the city have risen over the past year, as Portland still remains a relatively strong real estate market and will continue to be throughout 2021.

In This Article

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 2021 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 few years. House values have gone up and down, and were actually on a steady decline from mid-2018 to mid-2019. But since then, prices 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 $497,589 in January 2021. That was an increase of 8.5% from a year before.

The rate of increase is expected to continue at this pace over the next 12 months. Zillow predicts that home prices in Portland will increase 10.4% 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.

Buyers should consider pros and cons, and put an offer together. But Portland’s real estate market is picking up the pace in 2021. It’s a hot market right now, and things are expected to speed up in the home price appreciation department, especially with inventory being as tight as it is.

Right now, there’s barely a 2-month supply of available homes for sale in Portland. 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.

As of January 2021, most properties sell after the first offer and sell on average in about 16 days. Right now, the temperature of the market in Portland is competitive, so buyers must be prepared to have their finances lined up and prepare a solid offer.

Live Portland Mortgage Rates

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

As mentioned, Portland is currently a strong market. That means that the market is still rather competitive. In a market like this, buyers may be more likely to pay full asking price. “Low balling” isn’t necessarily recommended when making an offer on a home in Portland in 2021, as sellers will have plenty of opportunity to find buyers who are willing to pay full price, if not over asking.

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 2021 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.

Get an Instant Mortgage Rate Quote Today

Have Mortgage Questions?

Have you been contemplating buying a home in Portland in 2021 and need a mortgage to finance it? Call Sammamish Mortgage, a mortgage company serving home buyers across the Pacific Northwest since 1992. 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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