The Broken Record of Portland’s Supply Shortage

I’m starting to feel like a broken record, but the real estate story in Portland continues to repeat itself… “where’s the beef?”  With March numbers now in, you’ll see below that home sales continue to rise with no improvement in inventory.  In fact, months of supply hit a 12-month low just in time for the spring-summer buying season.  Sweet!

As a result, multiple offers continue to skyrocket.  In the last six months, more than 40% of the contracts Redfin Portland has submitted on behalf of our clients have been met with competition from other offers.  Talking to many Realtors in the area, everyone is experiencing similar pressures.  So how do you compete as a buyer in this dog-eat-dog season?  Here are a few tips that may help you climb to the top of the pile:

Multiple Offer Buying Tips

  1. Local Lending – Consider using a lender that is here in the area.  Knowing that the lender is close by, and easy to reach makes them more accountable and service driven.  Local lenders provide a sense of comfort to the seller, and often just as important, the seller’s agent.
  2. Show What You’re Good For – Often, buyers are hesitant to show their true borrowing, potentially fearing it will be used against them in negotiations with a seller.  In a multiple-offer scenario, it doesn’t hurt to provide a pre-approval letter showing that you are overqualified for the purchase (as long as you are!), giving the seller more confidence in your ability to secure financing.
  3. Seller Friendly Terms – Have your agent contact the listing agent to find out what the seller is looking for.  Of course, price is key, but there is often more involved with an attractive offer.  Consider providing extended rent-back, or closing quickly… whatever would make the seller happy.
  4. Sell Yourself – The days of the personal letter are back.  Consider writing a letter to the seller about who you are, what you love about the house, and why your puppy (or kids) will be brokenhearted if you don’t get the house.
  5. Be the First to the Water – Sometimes in the end, the offers are so similar that the seller simply goes with the first one they received.  To be competitive in this market, you need to be able to see the property quickly and make the decision quickly as well.  A quick plug for Redfin… registering on our website and setting up a “Saved Search” allows you to receive instant email alerts when a home in your desired area comes on the market.  We’re ready to spring into action to get you into the home as soon as it shows up!

Happy Hunting!  Now here are the March numbers…

Inventory Still Low, Favoring Sellers

Portland buyers were still struggling with low inventory in March, which saw the lowest supply level in the last 12 months. We consider a market with 5-6 months of supply balanced between buyers and sellers, but there were only 3.2 months of supply (the amount of time it would take to sell through all the homes for sale on the market) in March.

A big part of that was that only 2,185 homes were for sale at the end of March, dropping half a percent to the second-lowest in the past 12 months. Meanwhile, the number of sales jumped 8.4% to 677, causing the months of supply to hit its 12-month low.

Two other market indicators also supported the strong seller’s market in Portland. Pending home sales increased 6.3% from February and 11.1% from the previous March, and the number of homes taken off the market without selling was up 2.3% month over month, but down 21.3% year over year.

Condo Prices Make Surprise Jump

The median single-family home price was up for the third straight month, to $234,925. That’s a 2.2% month-over-month increase, and up 7.6% year over year. Condo prices saw a surprise 18.9% month-over-month increase to $220,000, but were still down 3.5% year over year.