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New: Is Portland King of Real Estate? Not for Long!

Posted on Nov 4, 2016

When hot home markets come up in conversations, most people mention Portland, Oregon. Rent prices in the region have been soaring for years, after all, and actually purchasing a home in the region can be as competitive as a Timbers-Sounders match. After living in Portland for five years, I can certainly see the appeal of the city (where else can I scarf down a bacon-wrapped donut mere moments before attending a Level 3 Vinyasa Flow Class heated to a toasty 101 degrees?). That said, based on the latest housing market trends, it seems like Portland’s days as the hottest housing market are numbered.

Between August 2015 and August 2016, Portland home prices increased by 11.7%, putting Rip City in first place for the hottest home market in the country. However, that lead is beginning to look precarious, as Seattle’s housing prices posted an 11.4% increase during the same time period. Not only that, but Seattle also posted significant gains over third place Denver’s housing prices, which recorded a comparatively modest 8.8% gain. Based on this information, it seems that the Emerald City real estate market is reasserting its dominance once again.

Now, those numbers might initially seem mildly interesting but ultimately unimportant. However, it’s crucial to realize that something pretty significant is going on here. Seattle has surpassed pre-recession records for housing prices, meaning that the Seattle market has rebounded with a passion. Much of the price increase relies on the region’s notoriously low inventory, which increases demand, even for so-called “fixer-uppers.” With houses flying off the market, it’s no surprise that prices are inching up.

As a Seattle native, I consider this trend a natural reassertion of Seattle’s superiority. Before Portland ever dreamed of curled mustaches, beloved airport carpets, or the craftiest of beer, Seattle was the undisputed Capital of Cool. I can’t necessarily say I remember those days of yore with any kind of authority (I was a wee drooly three-year-old when Kurt Cobain was mumbling his way to stardom, after all), but growing up in the region has given me a certain pride in Seattle’s reputation. As a result, I couldn’t be happier seeing Seattle poised to overtake its upstart, southern neighbor in terms of popularity.

For others, Seattle’s housing market dominance might seem scary. After all, if prices are going up, isn’t that bad for prospective homeowners? While it’s true that higher prices can increase the challenge of buying a home, it’s important to avoid dwelling on drawbacks and embrace the benefits.

Consider, for instance, that if home prices are rising, then home values are also rising. As the Seattle housing market continues to improve, owning a house in the area is going to accordingly be an ever more valuable asset and an important step on the road to building wealth. So, when you hear about Seattle’s rising home prices, don’t fret about the higher price tag; instead, relish your home’s higher value (or, if you’re on the market for a home, the opportunity to purchase a large share of wealth). And, while you’re contemplating Seattle’s rising prominence in the world of real estate, you might as well grab a donut, head over to your favorite yoga studio, and remember this simple but sweet fact:

Portland ain’t got nothin’ on us.

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