Portland Region September Home Sales

by 09 Nov 2011

The Portland-area’s housing market saw the typical dip in activity between August and September but sales rose above a year earlier for the third consecutive month. The median price paid in September was virtually unchanged from August but fell below the year-ago level for the 10th consecutive month as distressed property sales accounted for nearly one-third of all transactions, a real estate information service reported.


 A total of 2,296 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow during September in the five-county Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton metro area. Sales fell 9.7 percent from August but rose 10.2 percent from September 2010, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. The firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.


A drop in sales between August and September is normal for the season, partly because many families try to close escrow and move before school starts in late summer. On average, sales have fallen 9.9 percent between August and September since 1994, when DataQuick’s complete Portland-area statistics begin.


September’s 10.2 percent gain in sales from a year earlier follows a 27.7 percent annual increase in August and a 25.1 percent year-over-year sales increase in July, which came after 12 consecutive months of annual sales declines.


The September sales total was still the second-lowest for that month since 1994, behind 2,084 home sales in September last year. September 2011 sales fell 36.8 percent below the average sales tally of 3,634 for that month. Both resale activity and new-home sales were the second-lowest in DataQuick’s records for a September. 


The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos that closed escrow in the Portland region during September was $220,000, up less than one-tenth of one percent from August and down 6.1 percent from a year earlier. So far this year the region’s median sale price has ranged from a low of $207,000 in March to a high of $220,000 in September (the median was $219,900 in both July and August).   


September’s median was 23.9 percent lower than the peak $289,000 median in October 2007.


The median price paid for resale single-family houses in September fell year-over-year for the 14th consecutive month. But the resale condo median rose slightly – .1 percent – year-over-year in September for the first time in 19 months, and also posted a 15.7 percent month-to-month gain. Existing (not new) condos also stood out among all home type categories in September for posting the largest year-over-year increase in sales – up 26.4 percent, compared with annual sales gains of 10.2 percent for resale houses and .8 percent for all newly built homes.


Another price measure analysts track, the median paid per square foot for resale single-family detached houses, fell to $132 in September, down 0.8 percent from August and down 5.0 percent from September 2010. It was the lowest year-over-year decline since August 2010. The September median per square foot stood 31.5 percent below the peak of $193 paid in June 2007. 


Among the Portland region’s counties, the median paid per square foot in September for resale houses fell 4.2 percent from a year ago in Clackamas County, while the year-over-year drop was 6.5 percent in Multnomah County, 2.9 percent in Washington County, 5.2 percent in Yamhill County and 6.9 percent in Clark County, Washington.      


Sales of distressed properties represented roughly 31 percent of the resale market in September.


Foreclosure resales – homes foreclosed on in the prior 12 months – made up 17.2 percent of the Portland area’s resale market in September, down from 17.5 percent in August and 23.4 percent a year earlier. September’s figure was the lowest for any month since September 2009, when foreclosure resales were 15.9 percent of the resale market.


Short sales – transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property – accounted for an estimated 13.9 percent of the resale market in September – the highest level for any month in the current real estate cycle. September’s figure was up from an estimated 13.0 percent in August and 9.6 percent a year earlier.


On the foreclosure front, lenders foreclosed on 540 single-family houses and condo units in the five-county Portland area during September, up 13.4 percent from August but down 23.8 percent from a year earlier. During the first nine months of this year, foreclosures totaled 3,890, down 28.2 percent from the same period last year. The foreclosure figures are based on the number of Trustees Deeds filed with county recorder offices. The document signals that a home was lost to foreclosure.


Many foreclosed properties are bought by investors and first-time buyers.


Absentee buyers, which includes investors and vacation-home buyers, accounted for 17.1 percent of total September home sales, up from 16.9 percent in August but down from 18.4 percent a year ago. Absentee buyers paid a median $173,500 in September, down from $180,000 in August and $196,500 a year earlier.


Many of those investors would have been among those who paid cash for their homes – a group that accounted for 26.0 percent of all September sales, up from 25.9 percent in August but down from 26.5 percent a year earlier. Cash buyers paid a median $180,000 in September, the same as in August but down from $200,000 a year ago.


Government-insured FHA loans, a popular, low-down-payment option for many first-time buyers, represented 28.9 percent of all home purchase loans used in the Portland area in September. That was up from 25.2 percent in August but down from 31.5 percent a year ago.  


The Portland metro area statistics in this report and in the table below reflect sales in Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington and Yamhill counties in Oregon and Clark County in Washington.


(chart below)


Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA MSA  
Number of sales




YOY % chng

New homes





Resale condos





Resale houses





All homes





Median sale price




YOY % chng

New homes





Resale condos





Resale houses





All homes





Source: DataQuick , DQNews.com      


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