Portland-area home prices climb at slowest rate in six years

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Home prices in the Portland metro continued their upward climb in January but at their slowest rate since 2012.

Portland-area home values rose 3.3% in January compared with a year ago, according to the S&P/Case Shiller home price index. That's slower than national gains of 4.6% year-over-year.

Prices rose fastest in Las Vegas (up 10.5% over the past year), followed by Phoenix (7.5%) and Minneapolis (5.1%). Home prices rose in all 20 cities included in the index, but most saw prices rising more slowly than a year earlier.

The rise in home prices is cooling across the country but particularly in cities like Portland, Seattle and San Francisco that saw prices rise by 10% or more in recent years. That pushed prices out of reach for many of the cities' residents, who haven't seen wages rise as quickly as housing costs.

"Formerly scorching hot, in-demand markets have seen home value growth steadily slow over the past few months," Matthew Speakman, an economic analyst for the real estate website Zillow, said in a statement.

A rise in mortgage rates also helped price out some buyers through 2018, putting pressure on sellers to lower prices.

"It came as a culture shock to sellers and builders," said Kevin Hanna, the Northwest regional executive vice president for Tennessee-based Churchill Mortgage. "Buyers are always really heavily motivated by rates."

Mortgage rates have since returned to lower levels — 4.28% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan last week, according to the government-backed mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.

Home prices in Portland remain 24% higher than their 2008 bubble peak and 79 percent higher than their low in the housing crash.

The Case-Shiller index uses repeat sales of the same homes to measure changes across the market. Its numbers reflect a three-month rolling average.

The median home price in the Portland metro was $384,900 in January, according to the Regional Multiple Listing Service. It rose to $399,900 in February.

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