Portland Oregon Home Buying Guide
by Jolynne Ash


House Prices in Portland, Oregon metro area

Orientation of Portland Layout

If you divide Portland Oregon into roughly four sections using Interstate 5 to divide East from West (see map here), and Highway 26 and Interstate 84 to divide North from South, you would have an approximate layout of the greater Portland Oregon Metro Area. The Westside (includes NW Portland and SW Portland) is the area that we consider the suburbs or bedroom communities of the City of Portland. This is where you would find the largest concentration of new construction homes (but we have very little new construction), Condos, and Patio Homes, in addition to single family detached homes. With the influx of high tech during the 80's and 90's, the area along Hwy 26 (Sunset Corridor) is referred to as the Silicon Forest. The demographics of the area are young, diverse and affluent. Most homes are less than 30 years old. This area has great schools and is very close to downtown Portland. Our many planned communities are very attractive and offer small to very large homes. The thing to remember about the Westside of Portland and the suburbs is the age of the home typically indicates the size of the lot. The newer the home the smaller the lot. So if a big yard is on your list, you will want to focus on homes built in the 1980's.

The Eastside of Portland contains our older neighborhoods built between 1910 and about 1950. Lots are on a traditional 50 by 100 grid pattern and small neighborhood shops and restaurants make this area very charming. When you read about Portland, these are the areas getting all the press. We call them walking neighborhoods. If you stay inside of about 60th Ave, the schools are good, farther east they tend to drop down quickly. Portland is trying very hard to increase the density inside the City limits and that is having a negative effect on many of these neighborhoods (in my opinion). Along the major east/west streets (those with all the cute shops), the City is allowing five story multi-family buildings. Typically, they have retail on the street level and either condos or apartments on the upper levels. The issue I have is that there is NO parking included so residents park on the nearby streets making it difficult for those homeowners to park in front of their own homes. Portland's logic is the occupants don't need cars since they are on a bus line and can walk to shopping. Unfortunately, no one gives up their car because they may not work in the City and there is so much to do recreation-wise, which requires a car on weekends. I do find that two car households can move down to just one, and often do. Because of this I caution buyers when looking at homes that do not have off street parking.

Below is a list of the Average Sales Price of Homes Sold recently in the different cities comprising the Portland Metro Area. This is not intended to imply that all homes in an area are selling at this price point, but it does give you a general idea. Portland has been in a sellers' market since 2012. Prices have increased far above the national average every year since. I don't expect that to change anytime soon.

Helping you find the right neighborhood is what we do best. Feel free to just call and chat anytime.

Downtown Portland

Downtown Portland is located on the west side of the Willamette River. When talking about downtown housing, most folks think of condos. While condos are the largest housing type in downtown, they are not the only option.

Downtown Waterfront Condo
Downtown Portland Waterfront Condo

Downtown condos range from historic buildings built in the early 1900's to new high rise developments still under construction. Sizes vary from a 300 square foot studio for $250k up to a 2600 square foot penthouse for $1.7M. The average 2 bedroom 2 bath condo is in the $600-$800k range and includes parking. Many of the small units do not include parking which is a $50-$100k additional cost. Price per square foot is in the $700-$800 range for new construction. Condos can be found in many different neighborhoods within the downtown core and the South Waterfront District. The Pearl District is probably the most well-known neighborhood. Check out our Pearl District Pinterest page

Detached homes (mostly historic) can be found on the west side of I-405 in neighborhoods like Goose Hollow, Alphabet District, Kings Heights, Nob Hill and all the other 'Heights' neighborhoods. This is some of the most expensive housing in the City. Check out our Downtown Portland Pinterest page.

Eastside

The Eastside of Portland (which includes North Portland, NE Portland and SE Portland) began growing during the early part of this century. Streets are plotted out in a traditional grid pattern with many 'Old Portland' style homes and bungalows nestled in tree-lined streets with detached garages hiding in the back. In many areas, a coffee shop is just around the corner and commuters use Tri-Met our bus system or bikes to commute the short distance to downtown. Light rail (or the 'MAX' as we call it) operates in Downtown, North and NE Portland. It does not operate in SE Portland. We opened the new Orange Line last year which services Milwaukie through the southern tip of SE Portland and into Downtown.

City Park in Southeast Portland
Park in Southeast Portland

Southeast Portland

Southeast Portland has great access to Downtown but also holds its own identity. Division Street is now the hot bed for all of Portland's new restaurants. Affordability is a problem for many wanting to live in SE Portland, but it is generally cheaper than NE Portland. Check out our SE Portland Pinterest page

SE Portland is home to the Hawthorne & Belmont neighborhoods which are filled with single-family homes and multi-family buildings. Bakeries, coffeehouses, boutiques, music and bookstores, pubs and restaurants (even a pickle store) line both sides of the 30-block Hawthorne boulevard. Homes were built during the mid-1920s through the 1950's. Prices vary greatly but start around $400,000 for a small bungalow needing some work to upwards of $900,000 for a large remodeled Craftsman. These neighborhoods are in direct alignment with downtown via the Hawthorne Bridge, which is the one most used for cyclists and walkers. Check out our Hawthorne Pinterest page

Home in Southeast Portland
Home in Southeast Portland

The Sellwood Historic District has more than 30 antique stores and is located just over the Sellwood Bridge, a bit south from downtown Portland, making it a stop along the MAX line. The homes in Sellwood were built beginning at the turn-of-the-century with Victorian mansions and more conservative homes for the working class. This neighborhood was revitalized in the 1980's and is home to the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Sanctuary along the river and the Oaks Amusement Park, a Portland landmark. Average sales price in Sellwood is about $550,000.

Some of our wealthy founders built beautiful craftsman houses in neighborhoods with winding streets and planted medians. These neighborhoods are highly sought after. Westmoreland (part of the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood), and Eastmoreland are the two best in SE Portland. These highly desirable neighborhoods have tree-lined streets, quiet neighbors, and a variety of Portland's most beautiful homes. Eastmoreland has a wonderful public golf course while Westmoreland has several parks. Average sales price is about $700,000 to $1.2M. Check out our Sellwood/Moreland Pinterest page


Some of Portland's most affordable housing can be found in North Portland. This area has seen a huge gain in popularity in the last few years. As we struggle to find affordable housing, an area that was once undesirable is now seeing investment and rejuvenation. North Portland is located on both sides of Interstate 5, with the west side being the home of The University of Portland, Kenton and the St. Johns neighborhood. Some of the areas are still in need of some attention, (if you know what I mean) but with a little risk come big payoffs. There are no significant areas of large homes. The housing stock was originally built to house the families of the shipyard workers. The schools in North Portland are not as good as those in NE and SE, so the population tends to be a bit younger. MAX light rail services this area.

Northeast Portland has long been a great place to live. Located on both sides of I-84, it offers a close proximity to everything including MAX and several high-rise office buildings in the Lloyd District. This is also home to the Moda Center and Lloyd Center Shopping Mall. The three most popular neighborhoods are Alameda, Irvington, and Laurelhurst. These neighborhoods were originally built by the upper class of early Portland. The homes are large, gorgeous and expensive. ($700-$1.2M)

Home in Northeast Portland
Home in Northeast Portland

Alameda/Grant Park was laid out as an exclusive sub-division in 1909 and later added to the City of Portland. It has streets of older, architecturally interesting homes (lots of Tudors), and trendy neighborhood shops. It has a high level of community and school involvement, which has made it a local favorite. Most sales prices are between $600,000 to $900,000.

Irvington has an old and quaint downtown that runs along NE Broadway. Lloyd Center, one of Oregon's first Malls is located here. The Rose Quarter, along with the Moda Center (formerly the Rose Garden) and the Oregon Convention Center are at the western edge of Irvington. Clusters of small restaurants are within walking distance of most homes. The entire neighborhood of Irvington is a National Historic District; it is one of the oldest established neighborhoods in Portland. The homes tend to be Victorian in style and most have been beautifully restored over the years. Residents of Irvington tend to be managerial types with only 30% of the households having children. Average sales prices are $700,000 - $1.3M.

Home in Irvington, Northeast Portland
Home in Northeast Portland - Irvington

Laurelhurst is a close-in residential area of 1,817 homes with Laurelhurst Park at the heart. This neighborhood has circular medians planted with roses and statues of famous founders. Homes range from modest bungalows (not so modest prices) to Georgian mansions. Unlike Irvington, Laurelhurst is home to families. People chat over the front porch and take life a bit slower. Even though living in this area requires a healthy budget, you won't see many high-end cars here. Residents care more about their families and community, than their wheels. Average sales prices are $600,000-$900,000. Check out our NE Portland Pinterest page.

Clackamas and Happy Valley

Clackamas and Happy Valley are what I call the East-Side Suburbs. Clackamas Town Center, one of Oregon's largest indoor malls, and the surrounding shopping centers are located just off I-205 and at the western edge of the Clackamas area. Happy Valley (not a valley at all) is located on the east side of I-205 and was mostly farmland 10 years ago. There are new neighborhoods built for first time home buyers up to some very high-end developments with views of Mt. Hood and prices starting at $500,000. This area is growing rapidly and has a few traffic issues until some major new roads and highways are completed over the next decade or so, but I love the variety and affordability of the homes. The commute into downtown Portland is longer than other Eastside communities, but there is great access to the airport and shopping. Average sales price is about $330,000 for a starter home and $900,000 for a high-end new construction.

Overlooking Happy Valley, Portland Oregon
Overlooking Happy Valley

Milwaukie

Milwaukie is a city just south of SE Portland's nicest neighborhood (Eastmoreland) that until recently has gone unnoticed. The footprint of Milwaukie is quite large and has its western border along the Willamette River. It grew beginning in the 1950's with a few planned neighborhoods with homes on large treed lots. The city didn't have a 'master plan' so development happened in an 'as-needed' basis making Milwaukie somewhat less attractive than other surrounding cities.

Two things changed in 2015. One was the opening of the MAX Orange Line which provides light rail from downtown Milwaukie into Downtown Portland. The second is the price appreciation in SE Portland hit all-time highs pushing it out of range for most first-time home buyers. Milwaukie is one of the more affordable cities in the Metro area. First-time home buyers are finding nice homes on large lots in the low $300,000's with a reasonable commute into Downtown. Investors are also finding this area attractive. There is undeveloped land here, so we are also starting to see new construction pick up.

Schools vary; Putnam High School in south Milwaukie is good but the elementary schools are stronger in north Milwaukie. I expect all of them to improve steadily over the near future.

Home in Milwaukie, Oregon
Home in Milwaukie

Westside

The Westside consists of the cities of Aloha, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Lake Oswego, Northwest Portland, Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, West Linn and Wilsonville. MAX, our light-rail system, runs from Downtown Portland through Northwest Portland, Beaverton, Aloha, and Hillsboro. The Westside suburbs are more affordable than the old neighborhoods of SE and NE Portland. The homes and lots are larger, there is far more greenspace and the schools are great.

Home in Aloha, Oregon
Home in Aloha

Beaverton is probably the city that started the urban sprawl. In the early 70's companies like Tektronix, Intel and Nike planted those trees that would become the 'Silicon Forest'. Today the population is reaching 90,000 and has the traffic jams to prove it. Beaverton was the first real Portland suburb where people could live and work in the same community. Shopping and errands could be handled during the lunch hour, and there was more time for the family. Much of this still exists in beautifully planned communities that invite neighbors to get out and talk to each other. Beaverton has recently added a large amount of land into the UGB (Urban Growth Boundary) resulting in a surge of new construction homes (approximately 3000) in the Scholls Ferry-Beef Bend Rd area. Most of these homes are large planned neighborhoods with big beautiful homes on small lots with pocket parks and a community swimming pool. These homes are selling in the low $600,000s. I believe they are planning some attached homes which will be in the $400,000s. Due to the high cost of developable land, there are no entry level new construction homes. Having new construction options is always a good thing. However I am very concerned about the impact on the traffic that is already at capacity on Scholls Ferry Rd., which is the only road heading east to the freeway (there are no freeways to the west, just farm land). Prices start at around $330,000 for starter homes in Aloha but you can find a very nice three bedroom two bath home for under $375,000. The average price is between $350,000 and $700,000 for a newer contemporary home in higher-end neighborhoods like Murrayhill. Light rail or 'MAX' connects Beaverton commuters into the city and offers a great way to go shopping in the city for an afternoon. Check out our Beaverton Pinterest page

Home in Beaverton, Oregon
Home in Beaverton

Home in Beaverton, Oregon
Home in Beaverton

Home in Beaverton, Oregon
Home in Beaverton

Orenco Station is a residential community located between Beaverton and Hillsboro. Its design was very progressive for its time and place. The gamble paid off because Orenco has been the recipient of numerous national design awards. The vision was to create a City lifestyle in the center of the suburbs. For Portlanders that meant a high density residential area with shopping and entertainment all within walking distance. The secret was to locate the community along the new mass transit light rail system called MAX. MAX connects Orenco to downtown Portland and the high-tech industry of Hillsboro, allowing commuters to leave their cars at home. Downtown Portland is the center for all forms of entertainment (food, music, theater, art etc.) in the Portland Metro area.

The residential design took on many forms. Apartments were placed along the busier streets buffering the town homes (some call them row houses and patio homes) from the noise of automobiles. Garages were placed in the rear so the fronts could have small yards with picket fences and not be overwhelmed with garages. This design included sidewalks leading to small parks and play areas shared by all. Retail was placed on the street level with garages under and condos over. Single family detached homes were also included but on small lots contributing to the goal of high density.

Twenty plus years later Orenco has achieved its primary goal of creating a strong sense of community and proving that people don't need to have their private fenced backyards to enjoy the outdoors. They found that by consolidating the otherwise private space into parks, pools, playgrounds and plazas, residents joined together rather than apart. As for the use of public transportation over private cars, Orenco hasn't achieved the level they were hoping for. However, Orenco does have a higher participation rate in the use of public transportation than any of the surrounding communities. Prices range from $250K for a one bedroom condo to $550K for a small detached cottage.

Homes in Orenco Station
Orenco Station

Hillsboro, with a population of 100,000 is the county seat, and maintains a steady population growth due to the huge presence of Intel and other high tech companies. While enjoying the livability of a small agricultural area, Hillsboro is moving into the future as one of Oregon's fastest growing communities. It is a community in which residents, businesses, education and government work together to promote quality living. The average sales price $360,000. Hillsboro is one of the more affordable suburbs mostly because it is 16 miles west of downtown. It does have light rail into downtown which eases the commute considerably. Just West of Hillsboro are the small cities of Cornelius and Forest Grove.

Home in Hillsboro
Home in Hillsboro

Lake Oswego is primarily an affluent residential community (population 33,000), which began as the weekend retreat for Portland's wealthy families. Over time it became one of the most sought-after residential locations. Lake Oswego is in the southwestern corner of Clackamas County, and is ideally situated close to Oregon's major metropolitan areas—just 8 miles from downtown Portland and 45 minutes from the state capitol in Salem, off Interstate 5.

There is a substantial business district along Kruse Way. This half-mile long stretch is one of the largest collections of Class A office space outside of the downtown core. The only problem is the four-story brick buildings all look the same. This area also has a few hotels and nice restaurants. My own office is on Kruse Way (because I recognize the value of a good address).

Surrounding the private lake are many impressive homes ranging from $800K to several million. This is a man-made lake that was created in the early 1900's. The Lake Oswego Lake Association does own three or four parks and boat docks that can be used by their members. Membership is determined by your home address and cannot be purchased. Many of the older homes in the more affordable neighborhoods have lake easements. The easements run with the property. This area has a bit of a rural feel with tall fir and cedar trees dotting every corner.

Lot sizes are fairly big with streets that are perfect for walking or biking even though many of them do not have sidewalks. Lake Oswego has very little new construction. You may be able to find a new house here and there on what I call an in-fill lot ($900-$1.3M), but there are no new major developments with multiple homes. This community was built out many years ago.

Home in Lake Oswego
Home in Lake Oswego

Lake Oswego has the best schools in the state of Oregon; this is one reason why so many families want to live here. In all fairness to the surrounding school districts (which are very good), Lake Oswego does not have a diverse population. All of the other districts do. Check them out at: www.loswego.k12.or.us

Downtown Lake Oswego offers fine shops and boutiques, and many different kinds of restaurants. (See www.lofa.org.) Outdoor art graces each downtown block, and is enhanced by beautiful hanging baskets, plaza plantings and green trees everywhere. Currently there is a massive condo project underway right in the heart of the shopping district.

Spring brings the farmer's market season. Lake Oswego Farmers Market is held every Saturday from mid-May to mid-October. The European style market includes a wide variety of regional produce, baked goods and nursery stock, as well as live entertainment and great food. It is located on the esplanade in downtown Lake Oswego.

Check out our Lake Oswego Pinterest Page

Also see our: Moving to Lake Oswego Information Guide

Downtown Lake Oswego
Downtown Lake Oswego

Northwest Portland

Northwest Portland is the area on the north side of Hwy. 26 and West of Downtown Portland. It has excellent access to both downtown Portland and the high-tech companies within the 'Sunset Corridor'. With the mountains that rise just west of the city, many of these homes have fabulous views and are highly sought after. There is a large supply of executive homes starting in the mid $700,000s and going up to about $900,000. This area also contains a few small acreage estates located just outside the urban growth boundary. Further west are the communities of Oak Hills and Rock Creek offering homes built in the 70's, 80's, and 90's starting at $425,000 for a three bedroom two bath home. An upscale senior community (55 and older) called Claremont sits on one of our premier knolls and boasts an amazing private golf course and club house. MAX, our light rail system, also services this area. Bethany is a newer area with shopping and a nice retail/residential mix. Schools are strong and the community diverse and affluent. Check out our NW Portland Pinterest page.

Home in Northwest Portland
Home in Northwest Portland

Southwest Suburbs

Sherwood is a new City with an old history. Old Town was originally built in the late 1800s and is currently home to a wonderful collection of shops, antique stores, library, restaurants and City Hall. This was one of the fastest growing Cities in Oregon prior to the recession. The population currently stands at 18,884 and covers 4.5 square miles (zip code 97140). Sherwood is a new and growing community that has a wonderful long term vision that is quickly becoming a reality. The planned communities are beautiful, the parks are plentiful and the quality of life is suited for those who appreciate a sense of community and pride in their city. The annual Robin Hood Festival is one of my favorite two-day events. Most homes average around $330,000 - $500,000. There is no reason to leave Sherwood because everything you need is just around the corner.

The Sherwood Schools are excellent and have a high percentage of parental involvement. The average commute time into downtown for a Sherwood resident is currently 45+ minutes. The only drawback to this wonderful City is a transportation bottleneck heading East to I-5. With the growing population and demographics, many large retailers, like Home Depot and Target have built new stores in the City, eliminating the need to venture out.

Home in Sherwood
Home in Sherwood

Tigard is a city of 50,540. Tigard's population has increased 1.5 times since 1980 and includes an area of 11 square miles. This tremendous growth has coincided with the rapid development of Washington County as a high technology center, and more importantly, an attractive place to live. Tigard is located just south of Beaverton and spans both sides of Hwy. 217, and is within 4 miles of Hwy 26 and 2 miles of I-5, offering multiple routes into downtown Portland just 8 miles away. It is also home to Washington Square Mall, one of the largest shopping centers in the area. Tigard has great schools and many parks making it a family favorite.

Tigard offers housing in planned neighborhoods and newly developed subdivisions ranging in price from $240,000 for a 3 bedroom 2 bath home built in the 70's; a new construction 4 bedroom 2.5 bath home in the low to mid $300,000; up to a very large 4-5 bedroom newer home with a view for $400,000. or more. Tigard has two senior communities for those of you 55 years of age. King City and Summerfield both offer a wonderful selection of small to mid-size homes, condos, and apartments with golf course and country club amenities. This is an affordable and convenient place to retire. Prices in the Bull Mountain area which has primarily large homes has dropped considerably in the last year. Check out our Tigard Pinterest Page

Home in Tigard
Home in Tigard

Tualatin, 'Tree City USA' is just south of Tigard and shares the highly rated Tigard-Tualatin School District. Located along I-5, this small city of 33,000 residents enjoys the beauty of the Tualatin River. The City of Sherwood is just five miles to the west and does cause some traffic problems for the locals. Located just 12 miles south of Portland along I-5, it offers an easy downtown Portland commute. A few new construction homes are available around Ibach Park, but like all the other areas, Tualatin has run out of buildable land. Check out our Tualatin Pinterest Page

West Linn and Wilsonville are one School District and share many of the same attributes. West Linn is located just east of Lake Oswego and has a wonderful mountain offering homes with a view of Mt. Hood and the Willamette River that cannot be matched anywhere. There are more large newer homes in West Linn than in Lake Oswego.

West Linn has a large concentration of upper-middle class families with small children. This area has a real sense of community around the schools, with a significant population of stay at home Moms. Every time I'm in West Linn, whether it's morning, noon or night I see people jogging and riding bikes. Marylhurst College is also located in West Linn along the river.

Wilsonville is the Gateway to Oregon's wine country, and is situated in the lush horticultural growing area of Oregon's Willamette Valley. Wilsonville is also the location of major high technology companies such as Mentor Graphics, Flir, Tektronix and Xerox along with the new Oregon Institute of Technology Campus. With the Willamette River flowing through town and acres of public parks and gardens within the city, Wilsonville is a special place to work and live. Located just 17 miles south of Portland and spanning both sides of I-5, Wilsonville is still a small community. Surrounded by farmland and expensive small acreage properties, this is the perfect place for country folk and horse lovers. The very exclusive Oregon Golf Club is located on top of Pete's Mountain in Wilsonville. Significant new construction can be found in Villebois which is (similar or Orenco in NW) built around a European Design where the homes have patios and not private back yards. The flip side is the neighborhood has pocket parks and wide open areas that are truly beautiful. The elementary school is located within the neighborhood so kids can walk to school like we did when we were kids. The neighborhood has small single family detached starting in the high $300s and townhomes starting in the low $300s. Check out our Wilsonville Pinterest page

Want to learn more? Visit this site for a listing of all the cities and counties in Oregon.


Jolynne Ash, Realtor

Jolynne Ash, ABR, CRS
DreamStreet Team

Accredited Buyers Agent
503-678-2020

Email Jolynne@DreamStreetRE.com