Tough Portland Housing Market Stymies First-Time Homebuyers

25 Apr 2017 6:53 AM | Oregon Mortgage Association (Administrator)

Though it seemed unlikely, Claire Anderson couldn't shake the notion her real-estate broker had taken her to the scene of some terrible crime. 

They'd crossed an unkempt yard to enter the rundown Southeast Portland home through a back door. Inside, splotches covered the walls and ceiling. The lights flickered gloomily.

"It was the creepiest horror scene," the 29-year-old said. But "we still walked around and talked about what we could do to make this horror movie house work." 

That's because after touring more than a dozen homes and trawling hundreds of others online, she could no longer automatically dismiss a house with an "Enter at your own risk" sign tacked to the front door. Not for her first home, and certainly not one within her price range. 

The starter home has become an endangered species in Portland's robust real estate market -- even for middle-income earners with decent savings like Anderson.

Inventory in the ballpark of $300,000 is rapidly disappearing as prices far outpace wages, a scenario exacerbated by the continuing fallout of a homebuilding drought, the region's surging population and the tendency of current homeowners to stay put instead of move up. 

And rising interest rates threaten to further erode buying power, leaving first-time home buyers with even fewer options.

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