Portland homes selling fast; prices falling for condos

Portland is a tale of two residential real estate markets: Well-priced, single-family homes are selling fast — sometimes a bidding war breaks out regardless of the location and condition — while sales of turnkey condominiums with concierge services and killer views have stalled due to the coronavirus pandemic, say real estate agents.

Collectively, the median sale price for a Portland metro home has risen 4.5% to $426,500 when comparing 2020 to 2019 through July, and inventory of homes for sale last month decreased to 1.2 months, offering the fewest choices for potential buyers in years, according to a report by the local listing service RMLS.

“Inventory in Portland doesn’t have a chance,” said Dustin Miller of Windermere Realty Trust in Lake Oswego. “Correctly priced homes are selling with multiple offers and even surprising agents like me, who have been around for 15 years.

While it’s a seller’s market for single-family homes, low condo sales, which had been lagging before stay-at-home orders were issued in late March, have owners motivated to make a deal, said Sean Z. Becker of Portland-based Sean Z Becker Real Estate.

The uncertainty of the coronavirus and “headlines of civil unrest” have some home shoppers steering clear of dense urban housing, said Becker, who has been selling real estate for 16 years.

High-end condos in Portland’s Pearl District sold on average at $507 a square foot last year while the price per square foot has dropped to $481 so far in 2020, he says.

Condos in the South Waterfront have dipped from $469 a square foot last year to $441 a square foot so far in 2020, he added.

“The communal aspects of condos present a challenge, especially if it’s to be owner occupied,” said Becker. “When you look at single-family homes, which we sell a lot of, there’s nothing for sale. Then you look at the condo market and it’s the exact opposite. I can’t think of any time when they have been polar opposites.”

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