Portland metro home prices cross into ‘unaffordable’ territory
The median home price, according to the Regional Multiple Listing Service, hit $417,900 in June. At that price — assuming a 20% down payment, the area median family income of $81,400 and current mortgage rates — a formula devised by the National Association of Realtors says a typical family would struggle to make monthly payments.
They likely wouldn’t get the chance to try. Most banks would be unlikely to approve a loan, even if payments are only slightly out of reach.
The rate of rising prices has slowed. The median sale price fell in July to $401,600, following typical seasonal patterns, but it remains 1.7% higher than a year earlier.
But the bigger toll on affordability has come from rising mortgage rates, up a full percentage point since 2016. Rates are expected to continue climbing higher.
That’s putting pressure on home prices. When rates were lower, homebuyers could afford higher prices and still keep monthly payments low.
“We’ve reached a point where households are maxed out,” said Josh Lehner, a state economist. “Income growth is slowing a bit, and interest rates are rising. So that means if households are maxed out on their budget, the only adjustment that can be made to balance the household budget is sale price.”
It’s the first time since the housing bubble peaked in 2007 that a median-income household can’t afford a median-priced home in Portland. Last time, the bubble burst, setting off an economic crisis and sending home prices plummeting.
But a lot has changed since 2007. Households aren’t accumulating the same amount of debt, Lehner said. There remains a shortage of housing, rather than the excess of homes seen in some parts of the country during the bubble.
“Any fallout from the housing market wouldn’t have the same economic impact as it did the last time around,” Lehner said.
Portland-area home sales fell in July, down 2% from a year earlier. The number of listings climbed.
It would take 2.4 months to sell every home on the market. A balanced market typically has a six-month supply, with anything less indicating a seller’s market.
Homes that sold in July spent an average of 36 days on the market from listing to when an offer was accepted.
Tribune Content Agency