Summary: Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon are the two biggest cities by population in the Pacific Northwest. They’re also two of the most highly competitive real estate markets in the United States. Let’s look at a comparison between the Seattle and Portland housing markets, from a cost and inventory standpoint. These are the latest trends for summer and fall 2020.
Seattle and Portland are two of the largest cities by population in the Pacific Northwest region for good reason: they have a lot to offer, including a strong labor market, a great lifestyle, and beautiful natural scenery. Because of this, they’re also two of the most highly competitive real estate markets in the United States.
Today, we’ll look at a comparison between the Seattle and Portland housing markets, from a cost and inventory standpoint. These are the latest trends for 2020.
Portland vs. Seattle Housing Market: Inventory
These two real estate markets actually share a few things in common, and inventory is one of them. Or rather, a lack of inventory. Both Portland and Seattle are experiencing very low levels of housing supply at present. There just aren’t enough homes for sale to satisfy the demand from buyers.
This is something we’ve written about in the past. See related articles below:
As of spring 2020, both the Portland and Seattle real estate markets had a very low supply of homes for sale. According to housing experts, a balanced and healthy market has around a five- to six-month supply of homes for sale. But both of these cities have far less than what is considered to be a balanced market, leaving buyers with few homes to choose from. With that in mind, consider the following numbers.
- Portland had about a 2-month supply of homes for sale as of March 2020.
- Seattle had even less inventory in March, about a 1-month supply.
So while home buyers in both housing markets are struggling with limited supply, the Seattle market is the tighter of the two. This has created something of a “logjam” effect. In many cases, homeowners who want to sell are concerned that they won’t be able to find another property. So they’re reluctant to put their current homes on the market.
Over time, a combination of new-home construction, legislation, and creative planning could help to ease the inventory issues in both the Portland and Seattle real estate markets. But for now, limited supply is a defining characteristic of both.
Home Prices Are Much Higher in Seattle
It will probably come as no surprise to residents in either city to learn that home prices are significantly higher in Seattle, compared to Portland. The rapid rise in house values within the Seattle metro area has been one of the big real estate stories of the last couple of years. Portland has experienced price growth as well, but it’s still much more affordable by comparison.
That said, the market in Seattle cooled quite a bit from mid-2018 to mid-2019. In fact, housing prices have actually dipped about 3.8% over the course of 2019. That said, prices are back on their way up in Seattle. Portland also had a similar situation in which prices stagnated, though they didn’t dip to the extent that Seattle’s home prices did.
Here are the median home prices for both cities as of March 2020, according to Zillow:
- Seattle: $755,600 (up 0.7% over the last 12 months)
- Portland: $462,300 (down 0.2% over the last 12 months)
We can glean one important point from this data: the median and average home prices are much higher in Seattle than in Portland, which has created affordability issues for many residents. And home prices in Seattle are expected to climb over the next 12 months by 3.7%, which means prices will be even higher in 2021.
Related: Best Neighborhoods in Portland, OR
Related: Best Neighborhoods in Seattle, WA
Both Cities Are Still Competitive for Buyers
Home are selling fast in both of these real estate markets. In Seattle and Portland, hot properties can go pending in as little as 6 or 7 days. In some cases, properties receive multiple competing offers within days of the original listing. This is largely the result of the tight inventory conditions mentioned earlier.
Bottom line: Buyers in both the Seattle and Portland housing markets will want to prepare for competition, if buying a home in 2020 or 2021.
Need a Home Loan in Portland or Seattle?
Will you need mortgage financing to buy a home in Seattle or Portland? We can help. Sammamish Mortgage has been serving buyers across the Pacific Northwest since 1992. We offer a wide variety of mortgage programs & products with flexible qualification criteria and are here to help borrowers throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado. Please contact us today with any financing-related questions you have.