Portland-area home prices edge higher; West Coast leads national housing slowdown

Home prices are merely inching higher in the West Coast metros, including Portland, where they once soared.

The West has become the vanguard of a nationwide slowdown, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index. Three California metros, Seattle and Portland all lagged the national average for year-over-year growth in March, and national price growth slowed to 3.7% annually, the slowest in six and a half years.

Cities in the mountain west and southeast now lead the nation in rising home prices. Las Vegas saw the biggest annual increase at 8.2% in March.

In the Portland metro, prices rose 2.6% compared with a year earlier. That’s the slowest area home prices have climbed since 2012, just as the nation was emerging from the wreckage of the burst housing bubble.

The Case-Shiller index uses repeat sales of the same homes to estimate changes across the market. It’s calculated using a three-month rolling average.

The slowdown comes despite a generally strong economy with low unemployment.

But wages haven’t kept up with ballooning home prices, and homes in Portland and elsewhere grew increasingly out of reach for typical homebuyers. Even as low mortgage rates kept monthly payments manageable, it’s grown increasingly difficult to save for a down payment.

The number of homes sold, meanwhile, has slowed across the country and in the Portland metro area, and the competition for homes that led to bidding wars and escalation clauses in purchase offers has eased.

Both sides of the slowdown slowdown might be welcome news for would-be homebuyers, who can expect more room for negotiation and less pressure to make a generous offer on the spot.

The slowdowns aren’t being felt evenly across the market, however.

Prices are rising faster for the lowest-priced homes — $343,000 and below — than for middle- and high-priced home, suggesting stronger competition for the most affordable housing stock.

The Case-Shiller index uses repeat sales of the same homes to measure changes in home value across the market. It uses a three-month rolling average to control for volatility.

The median price for a Portland-area home sold in March was $399,000, according to the real estate listing service RMLS. It climbed to $405,000 in April.

— Elliot Njus

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