Where Can I Buy an Affordable Home in the Portland Metro Area?

My wallet is feeling a little slim.

My wallet is feeling a little slim.

You may not have noticed, but home values in Portland have been on the rise for awhile now. 


Rising prices are fueled by low inventory. Low inventory is caused by renters in Portland shifting to homeownership along with a massive migration of people into the Portland area. Both of those groups of people tend to look for homes in the more affordable range, leaving Portland with a decent amount of options if you can spend over 600K but not a lot to choose from below that mark.

Before you finish posting a comment about that inflated idea of affordability... I'm not saying everything under 600K is affordable; that's just where a good portion of the inventory is. Please don't shoot the messenger!

"Affordable" is all in the eye of the beholder. As a Realtor, I talk to lots of different people. Some of them feel that 400-500K is an affordable home. Plenty of other people think of anything above 250K as being ridiculously high priced. 

At some point, Portland residents figured out that Portland is just not very affordable anymore. Yes, it's still better than San Francisco and Seattle and [fill in the blank of another high priced city here]. But "less expensive than ___" does not equal "affordable".

What about the burbs?

There are some very real advantages to living in the 'burbs...

There are some very real advantages to living in the 'burbs...

It was inevitable that a rapidly growing group of people would set their sights on the suburbs. Until recently*, many cities around Portland have seen a decline in inventory that eclipsed even the most popular areas of Portland. The suburbs experiencing low inventory include: Wilsonville, Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, Hillsboro, Sherwood, Oregon City, and Milwaukie.

*I say "until recently" because we're seeing definite signs of the notorious "summer slump". This is when late-to-market sellers rush to get their homes listed while buyers become distracted by the awesomeness that is the Oregon outdoors in summertime. That results in a sudden increase of inventory, less competition with other buyers, and more opportunities to find affordable homes. This can often be the best time of year to be a buyer!

What's interesting is that the median home price for many of these suburban areas aren't really lower than what you could find in Southeast or Northeast Portland. But your dollar goes farther, potentially netting you a larger lot, more square footage, a newer property that is less expensive to maintain, and/or lower property taxes. AND, you can usually find options near or below 300K.

Median sale prices around the metro area have sharply risen year over year. Not surprisingly, Southeast and Northeast Portland still saw double digit value increases of 10.2%. But did you know that Gresham/Troutdale and Milwaukie/Clackamas saw even larger increases? (11.6% and 12.1% respectively.) Hillsboro/Forest Grove also clocked a 12.1% increase in home values over the past year. Beaverton/Aloha nudged in ahead of inner Portland at 10.4%.

Those are some mighty big numbers. But that doesn't mean there aren't still affordable options to be found.

How do I find an affordable home and where are they???

Proximity to your favorite brewery may be a somewhat limiting search criteria. But, I'm game to try!

Proximity to your favorite brewery may be a somewhat limiting search criteria. But, I'm game to try!

It all comes down to the trifecta: price, location, and condition. If you are dead set on purchasing in a desirable area (such as Bethany or Mt. Tabor) then you have to budge A LOT on condition/size in order to find something that we normal people would consider "affordable". 

Usually, to find affordable homes, we need to take a step away from the smoking hot parts of Portland (leave those to the crazy and/or rich people) and find the areas that offer good to decent schools, a reasonable mix of services and transportation options, but might not be right next to your favorite brewery.

For the sake of argument, let's define an affordable home as a detached home at or under $325,000 and condos at or under $300,000.

Areas where you can find affordable homes on the East Side:

  • Near or past SE/NE 82nd Ave.
  • Areas east of I-205, including Gresham
  • South of SE Foster Rd, in neighborhoods like Brentwood-Darlington
  • Milwaukie, Clackamas, and Oregon City
  • Condos/attached homes scattered throughout the east side

Areas where you can find affordable homes on the West Side:

  • There are usually a few good options in Southwest neighborhoods near (but not TOO near) Multnomah Village.
  • All around Beaverton/Aloha and Hillsboro
  • Condos! Condos everywhere!!

These aren't the only options but it's a place to start. If you're ready to start honing in on your areas of interest, contact me and we'll chat about the process, your needs and wants, and strategy. Your home is out there!

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