Portland Area Real Estate Appraisal Discussion

Portland Real Estate Market

In the appraisal process, a real estate appraiser is usually most focused on the specific subdivision, neighborhood (or market area), and property type.  In doing so, appraisers typically deal with micro, and not macro, economic systems.  For example, the market for a million dollar home in Portland is likely different than the market for an entry priced property.  Consequently, an appraiser will typically examine statistics for similar-sized properties to develop an opinion of market segment health.  For this blog post however, let’s take the big view and look at what is happening in the overall Portland market.

The following are some of my favorite sources for gathering information about the Portland real estate market.

  • Case-Shiller Portland Home Price Index is a monthly index that is calculated based on verified arm’s length transactions of twice sold single-family homes (repeat sales of the same property) in three different price tiers.  The index is a strong measure of price change for a market because it is not skewed by more low priced homes being sold in one year and more high priced homes being sold another year.  The drawback of Case-Shiller is that the data lags by three months.


    The most recent Case-Shiller Portland Home Price Index is for June of 2015 and was published August 25, 2015.  The index is currently at 182.14, which is nearly back to the 186.51 peak reached in July of 2007 before the housing collapse.  The index shows that prices have increased by 7.81% from last year, 1.54% from the previous month, and 4.74% in the prior three months.  In an earlier blog post I examined the seasonal trends in the Case-Shiller Index.  Based on the analysis of that blog, and what I know about the Portland market, I expect the Case-Shiller Index to increase in August and September before the seasonal price drop occurs from October through January.


  • RMLS Market Metro Portland Action Report is a monthly report put out by Portland’s only multiple listing service. The report features overall statistics including inventory, pending volume, total market time, and median prices.  The most recent Metro Portland Report is for August 2015 and was distributed September 13, 2015. 


    Inventory:  The report shows that inventory has been down every month since July 2014 when compared to the same month in the prior year.  Inventory seasonally went up slightly last month from 1.7 to 1.9 months.


    Pending Volume:  The report shows that pending sales seasonally declined in August, but are up 24% for the year.


    Total Market Time:  At only 40 days, the average total market time for sales in Portland is now at its lowest level in three years.


    Median Prices:  The report shows that median home prices were down 0.5% for the month, but up 7% for the year.


  • Portland State University Center for Real Estate Quarterly is a comprehensive quarterly report put out by PSU graduate students.  The report is supported by the Oregon Association of Realtors (OAR) and the Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS).  The most recent Residential Market Analysis is for May 2015.  Highlights include trends in local permitting, sales of new and existing homes, and sales to list price ratios for existing homes.


    Building permits for new private housing in Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro MSA declined in the past quarter, but have been on an upward trend since 2009.  Even so, building permits are only about half of the levels seen in the three years leading up to 2007.


    Sales of new homes in Metropolitan Portland picked up most in 2013, and have slowly increased since then, but remain not even close to the levels seen prior to 2007, despite a historically low inventory. 


    Sales of existing homes in Metropolitan Portland are quite strong and are now close to levels seen in the three years leading up to 2007.


    The ratio of sales price to list price for existing homes in Metropolitan Portland has been hovering at or near 99% since 2012.


  • Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains a Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro Economy at a Glance page that includes employment, salary, and Consumer Price Index statistics. 


    Unemployment in Portland for July of 2015 is currently at 5.8% and had been trending downward, except for a bump up in the past quarter.


    Salary in Portland for July 2015 is up 4% from one year prior, but shows only a 7% increase from July 2007.


    Consumer Price Index in Portland is up 1% in 2015 compared to the first half of 2014.  However, prices are up 18% from the first half of 2007.


  • Housing Affordability Index produced by the National Association of Realtors measures the median family income in relation to the median priced home.  A value of 100 means that the median family has 100% of the income to afford the median home loan.  The higher the index, the more affordable the home.  In 2011 the index for Portland was 155.5% and by 2014 it dropped to 134.7%.  Portland is still affordable, but not by the margins of just a few years ago.

The consensus is that the Portland single family housing market is clearly strong with increasing prices, low inventory, and bidding wars for some properties and areas.  The increasing prices appear to be riding atop favorable economic trends in employment and wage growth fundamentals.  The problem is that recent price increases are outpacing wage growth and affordability.  The current trend does not appear to be a bubble that will burst anytime soon, but it is unsustainable in the long term.  This is especially true if interest rates rise without corresponding increases in wages.  My hope is that in 2016 there is continued good news for Portland in terms of wage increases, that housing inventory returns to more historically-normal levels with additional new construction, and that home price increases are modest.

Did I leave anything out or do you want to join in the conversation?  Let me know in the comments below.

If you find this information interesting or useful, please subscribe to this blog and like A Quality Appraisal, LLC on Facebook.  Also, please support us by making Portland real estate appraisal related comments on our blogs and YouTube videos.  If you need Portland, Oregon area residential real estate appraisal services for any reason, please request appraisal fee quote or book us to speak at your next event.  We will do everything possible to assist you.

Thanks for reading,

Gary F. Kristensen

Posted by Gary Kristensen on September 18th, 2015 7:04 PMLeave a Comment

Subscribe to this blog
December 17th, 2014 2:44 AM

Clients often ask, “What is the best time of year to buy or sell my home in Portland?”  My past answer has always been that it depends on the supply and demand in the submarket of the property being sold.  I would explain that there is typically more competition from other listed homes in the summer.  On the other hand, I would explain that there tends to be less competition during winter months, but those sellers are inclined to be more motivated.  In retrospect, I realize that by trying to be correct for every situation fails to answer the general question that my clients are asking.  Here is a better overall explanation using recently published data.

The latest Portland Metro RMLS Area Report was published December 12th, 2014.  The report shows that although median prices continue to trend upward in Portland year-over-year, prices did take the normal autumnal seasonal drop of a couple percent.  The fall months are highlighted in yellow on the following RMLS Chart.

Portland Home Market Fall Price Decline

The Case-Shiller Portland Home Price Index is a more scientific measure of market trends than median prices, but the data is older when it is released.  The most recent figures were released November 25, 2014 and only report through September.  However, Case-Shiller figures are an excellent way to study the typical seasonal shift in the market for Portland because they report back to 1986 using consistent measures.  The following chart shows the average Case-Shiller Portland Index month by month all the way back to 1986.

Portland Real Estate Market Best Time to Buy or Sell

In the chart, the average Case-Shiller Portland Index is shown in red at 105.63.  Notice that eight of the twelve months show above average sales prices and would generally be considered good times to sell.  The data also show that prices typically decline about two percent in the fall from the summer high, and almost five percent to the winter low in January.

Based on the above data and speaking in general terms, it would be best to buy a Portland, Oregon home in January or February and to sell in August or September.  The problem is that most people buy a home at the same time that they sell another home, meaning that they accrue no net benefit based on market timing.  Those who are only buying or selling (as a first-time buyer or an estate seller) might not have the flexibility to try and time the market.  Consequently, the best advice is that there are low prices or good deals to be found in any market, and that a strong sales price can be obtained when decisions are based on sound counsel from real estate experts and not emotions.

Did I leave anything out or do you want to join in the conversation?  Let me know in the comments below.

If you find this information interesting or useful, please subscribe to our blog and like us on Facebook.  Also, please support us by making Portland real estate appraisal related comments on our blogs and YouTube videos.  If you need Portland, Oregon area residential real estate appraisal services for any reason, please request appraisal fee quote or book Gary F. Kristensen to speak at your next event.  We will do everything possible to assist you.

Thanks for reading,


Posted by Gary Kristensen on December 17th, 2014 2:44 AMView Comments (12)

Subscribe to this blog

When appraising most residential property for lending purposes, appraisers are asked in the 1004MC Market Conditions Addendum to, “Explain in detail the seller concessions trends for the past 12 months (e.g., seller contributions increased from 3% to 5%, increasing use of buydowns, closing costs, condo fees, options, etc.)” The problem is that in Portland, OR, data on seller concessions is not available publically, nor is it available through the local multiple listing service (MLS). In my experience, most appraisers in Portland merely make an educated guess at the answer to this question.

The only way to obtain data on concessions in Portland is to conduct interviews with agents. When A Quality Appraisal (AQA) does an appraisal, we call or email at least one agent involved in each comparable transaction to find out if there were concessions involved in the sale. Contrary to popular belief among Portland residential appraisers, most Portland agents will answer this question and other pertinent questions about the sale.

AQA finds that almost all of the concessions seen in the Portland area are payment of the buyer’s closing costs. In the agent interview, we also ask if the concessions were reimbursement for some type of necessary repair to the property that the buyer would need to make soon after closing. From an appraisal standpoint, reimbursement for a necessary repair is not an adjustable concession. This is because the repair cost becomes part of the total price the buyer pays for the house.

Since June of 2011, AQA has tracked concessions on nearly 5,000 home sales in the Portland region to identify local trends in concessions. Our hope was to use the data to discover how much the concession actually affects the sale price. This question turned out to be more difficult to answer than expected, but we have learned the following general information about concession trends in Portland home sales:

1. Concessions are most common (occurring as much as 78% of the time) and tend to be larger on sales with FHA, USDA, or VA financing. Price ranges where these types of financing are active seem to generate the most concessions. Cash sales rarely have concessions.

2. The following table shows that Portland concessions are most frequent (occurring on about 48% of all sales) when the sale price is between $100k and $300k:

Portland Home Appraiser Concession Chart

3. The chart below shows that most concessions tend to be evenly disbursed at under 3% of sale price, with only a few sales having more than 3% in concessions.

Portland Appraiser Concession Distribution Chart

4. The last chart illustrates that despite the Portland real estate market improving significantly since 2011, the proportion of sales with concessions have remained quite stable over time.

Portland Appraiser Percentage of Sales with Concessions Trend

If you are a Portland area home appraiser and you need to answer the concession trend question on your next appraisal 1004MC, feel free to site this blog as your source for the data. It would be nice if Portland appraisers, as a group, could maintain a database with concession information about particular sales from the local RMLS, but I’m afraid it is a violation of confidentiality to the agents who provided the information. The RMLS could make a concession field for reporting the information, but I’m told that they are against it for confidentiality reasons. There was a legislative push to in Oregon to place concessions in the public record, but it failed. For now, individual appraiser tracking of concession data in Portland is the best that the profession can do to keep an eye on this important, yet hidden, part of the transaction.

If you find this information interesting or useful, please subscribe to my blog. Also, please support us by making Portland real estate appraisal related comments on our blogs and YouTube videos. If you need Portland, OR area residential real estate appraisal services for any reason, please contact us. We will do everything possible to assist you.

Thanks for reading,


I receive emails regularly from Portland area real estate agent colleagues saying, “Now is a great time to buy or sell real estate”. This even happened at the end of the housing bubble as the market was collapsing; buyers were advised to jump in to get the deals and low interest rates while they last. I respect my real estate agent colleagues and I refer my clients to agents often for things that I cannot or should not answer as an appraiser. However, it is fair to ask if now is really a great time to buy or sell real estate.

Hindsight and the S&P Case-Shiller Portland Home Price Index (CSPI) statistics show that if you took that advice and purchased a $300,000 home in December of 2007, your home would have been worth around $218,000 just four years later (if your property matched the overall market performance).

If a trend line is added to the CSPI data, one can see where the market should be now as though the housing bubble never happened. In general and based only on this data, autumn 2013 is indeed a good time to buy as prices are about eight percent below where they would be given normal market gains. However, submarkets vary from the overall market and should be analyzed in context with a particular property to help make better decisions.

My point is that most Portland area real estate agents are caring professionals; but because agents work on commission, their natural bias is toward a motivation to sell. If you pay an agent five percent of your home value to sell your house, why shouldn’t you consider paying an appraiser around just $500 for an independent opinion? You can and should still listen to your agent. However, arming oneself with an independent appraisal provides you with important facts and information when you need them most and is an effective negotiating and marketing tool.

If you found this information interesting or useful, please consider sharing it with others and subscribing to my blog. If you need Greater Portland Area residential real estate appraisal or home valuation services for any reason, please contact us, we’re excited to assist you.

Thanks for reading,


August 23rd, 2010 4:50 PM

Recently I finished an appraisal in Arbor Parc. This is a subdivision of newer 1,500 sq. ft. Townhomes in the Bethany area (near Beaverton and NW of Cedar Mill) of Portland, Oregon. The following are some market statistics for Townhomes in Arbor Parc (ending 8/2010) using sales from the RMLS and Total Solutions 1004MC software:

Bethany Oregon Real Estate Market

Use this information at your own risk. This data lacks the context and other supporting figures that are supplied in appraisal reports. If you’re interested in the real estate market for your property type and neighborhood, let me know.

Thanks for reading,



My Favorite Blogs:

Sites That Link to This Blog: