Portland area homebuyers faced fewer choices in October

Register now

People shopping for a home in the Portland area are facing headwinds as the year dwindles down. Asking prices are higher, there are fewer residential properties for sale and activity is slower so far in 2019 compared to last year, according to the local listing service RMLS.

The number of new listings, 3,064, plunged 11.7% from September 2019, at a time when demand already outpaces supply and sellers have retained most of the negotiating power.

Last month, inventory decreased slightly to a 2.4-month supply. Anything below four months suggests a seller's market.

The number of homes sold across the metro area in October 2019 — 2,588 — was 8.9% more than the 2,377 closings recorded in September 2019. Compared with the same month in 2018, sales increased 6.1%.

Contracts for home sales that will close over the next couple of months fell 4.1% from September 2019 but, at 2,575, were 3.7% higher than a year ago.

Looking at 2019 through October, the median sale price rose 2.5% from $400,000 to $410,000 from the same period in 2018.

"This is a good temperature for Oregon," said Dustin Miller of Windermere Realty Trust. "It's nice for Oregon to not stay in double digits."

For the year, pending sales (26,599) are up 0.4%, new listings (37,091) are down 1.4% and closed sales (25,085) are down 1.8%.

Sellers still have a slight advantage because of the low inventory if the property is priced at market value and they "don't overshoot it," said Tanya Smith of Redfin.

Overall, there has been a small uptick in offers, she added, but the market traditionally cools from Thanksgiving to the end of the year.

Miller of Windermere Realty Trust said some sellers are taking their home off the market during the busy holiday season and will wait until spring when interest picks up. But, he said, "buyers are out there if the property is priced correctly."

In October, homes lingered on the market on average for about 54 days, from the listing day until an offer was accepted.

With a slower market, buyers feel they have more power than in the past to negotiate on price, repairs or closing costs, especially in the condo market.

Condo shoppers have more to choose from, are spending more time looking and are writing lower offers, said Smith, who has listed a 907-square-foot condo in the Meriwether building in Portland's South Waterfront at $410,000.

"They feel they can take their time and they are nervous that we may be at the top of the market," said Smith. "People are afraid to buy high, especially first-time buyers."

The housing market nationally has gotten a boost from mortgage rates that fell to 3.49%, a three-year low in September 2019. October rates were as low as 3.57%, while a year earlier rates were as high as 4.9%.

The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.75% the week ending Nov. 14.

Tribune Content Agency