Sales of homes up, inventory down, in Portland

HOUSING ROUNDUP: Portland homes for sale hit nine-year low; Multnomah County officials commit to building 500 affordable housing units in desirable neighborhoods; inclusionary housing bill passes House.

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Buying a house in Portland in March was more difficult than any time since September 2005.

It’s a seller’s market as median sales price increased $5,000 to $290,000, according to

In its just-released March report, RMLS said there are 4,767 active listings in the Portland area. Closed sales and pending sales each jumped by about one-third from the previous March.

The number of sales and prices are up in every geographical sector of the Portland area, but the hottest zone of all may be North Portland, where the average sale price of a house has risen 9.9 percent from a year earlier, and houses are on the market for just 35 days — the lowest level in the area.

The Portland Business Journal invoked the pre-Recession housing bubble.

According to the latest data from the Regional Multiple Listing Service, the number of closed sales in March rose to its highest level since 2007. Back then, 2,775 homes closed in March; this March, 2,457 sales closed. Closed sales were up more than 32 percent this March compared to last year and up nearly 50 percent over February.

The same goes for pending sales, which at 3,384 in March were up almost 34 percent over March 2014. According to RMLS, the last March that saw a number of accepted offers as high as those for March 2015 was back in 2006, when 3,399 offers were accepted. New listings were also up in March about 16 percent over last year, and the average sale price for homes sold in the past 12 months rose almost 6 precent over the prior year to $334,600.

Housing stats were also favorable for sellers in Lane County, where home sales surged in both number of listings and the price.

From the Register-Guard:

Closed and pending sales were up by almost a third compared with March 2014, while the median price was up a more modest 14 percent, according to figures released Tuesday by the Regional Multiple Listing Service. The inventory of homes for sale shrank, however, to an average of 3.7 months in March — the lowest since the 3.2 months reported in August 2006, before the recession, according to RMLS figures.

During the recession, the inventory climbed as high as 20.6 months. Inventory measures how long it would take for all the homes on the market to be sold at the rate of sales at that time. Real estate dealers consider a six-month inventory to be a balanced market, with supply and demand roughly equal. Below that, and it is considered a sellers’ market. Matt Powell, principal broker of Windermere Real Estate/Lane County, noted that the current inventory of homes for sale is an average for Lane County (minus Florence). And the county as a whole, he said, “is a very diverse market.”

Affordable housing measures advance

Housing officials in the Portland area committed 500 units of affordable housing in desirable neighborhoods.

The housing authority for Multnomah County, Home Forward, is altering its rules in response to a dearth of rental options for Portland’s poorest residents. reports:

Home Forward’s decision marks a significant policy shift in its Housing Choice Voucher program, often called Section 8, and will carry long-term consequences for thousands of low-income residents.

By giving high priority to building or renovating 500 units in select neighborhoods, Home Forward will cut funding for 500 vouchers that families could use to find housing on their own. That will mean longer wait times for those in the Section 8 system, where families already wait years to apply then years more for an actual voucher.

About 22 percent of voucher-holding families struggle to find a home. That reality has driven many low-income families east of 82nd Avenue.

In Salem, Oregon House Democrats passed a bill that would negate a 1999 law that stops local jurisdictions from allowing “inclusionary zoning.”


The concept of inclusionary zoning in Oregon is relatively straightforward: as part of any new subdivision or condo project, some percentage of the units should be affordable to lower-income buyers. It wouldn’t impact rental units. In the late 1990s, as Portland-area leaders considered requiring each city to accommodate a “fair share” of affordable units, homebuilders went to the Legislature to preemptively ban inclusionary zoning.

As a result, no jurisdiction can require affordable housing development. But local leaders can offer incentives to spur affordable units. House Bill 2564 would allow government leaders to set their own affordable-housing requirements, with up to 30 percent of units in a development to be sold below market prices.

Homebuilders object to the bill, which moves on to the Senate.