Portland Area Real Estate Appraisal Discussion

Best Time to Buy or Sell in Portland
December 17th, 2014 2:44 AM

Clients often ask, “What is the best time of year to buy or sell my home in Portland?”  My past answer has always been that it depends on the supply and demand in the submarket of the property being sold.  I would explain that there is typically more competition from other listed homes in the summer.  On the other hand, I would explain that there tends to be less competition during winter months, but those sellers are inclined to be more motivated.  In retrospect, I realize that by trying to be correct for every situation fails to answer the general question that my clients are asking.  Here is a better overall explanation using recently published data.

The latest Portland Metro RMLS Area Report was published December 12th, 2014.  The report shows that although median prices continue to trend upward in Portland year-over-year, prices did take the normal autumnal seasonal drop of a couple percent.  The fall months are highlighted in yellow on the following RMLS Chart.

Portland Home Market Fall Price Decline

The Case-Shiller Portland Home Price Index is a more scientific measure of market trends than median prices, but the data is older when it is released.  The most recent figures were released November 25, 2014 and only report through September.  However, Case-Shiller figures are an excellent way to study the typical seasonal shift in the market for Portland because they report back to 1986 using consistent measures.  The following chart shows the average Case-Shiller Portland Index month by month all the way back to 1986.

Portland Real Estate Market Best Time to Buy or Sell

In the chart, the average Case-Shiller Portland Index is shown in red at 105.63.  Notice that eight of the twelve months show above average sales prices and would generally be considered good times to sell.  The data also show that prices typically decline about two percent in the fall from the summer high, and almost five percent to the winter low in January.

Based on the above data and speaking in general terms, it would be best to buy a Portland, Oregon home in January or February and to sell in August or September.  The problem is that most people buy a home at the same time that they sell another home, meaning that they accrue no net benefit based on market timing.  Those who are only buying or selling (as a first-time buyer or an estate seller) might not have the flexibility to try and time the market.  Consequently, the best advice is that there are low prices or good deals to be found in any market, and that a strong sales price can be obtained when decisions are based on sound counsel from real estate experts and not emotions.

Did I leave anything out or do you want to join in the conversation?  Let me know in the comments below.

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Thanks for reading,


Posted by Gary Kristensen on December 17th, 2014 2:44 AMPost a Comment

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Great insights, Gary! The graphs say it all. Every Buyer/Seller in Portland should see these graphs. Thanks.

Posted by Michael Coyle on December 17th, 2014 11:41 AM
Thank you for your comment Michael.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on December 17th, 2014 12:01 PM
Gary, even though the Case-Shiller does lag a little it still provides some good insight into the characteristics of the market at different times of the year. Thanks for bringing that up.

Posted by Tom Horn on December 19th, 2014 8:08 AM
Thank you for the comment Tom. Yes the Case-Shiller figures are great for many things.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on December 19th, 2014 9:33 AM
Really great analysis Gary! I am going to look into this for my Chicago market as well. I love the point about people buying and selling at the same time and therefore, it becomes somewhat of a wash in the end. What exact chart did you pull from Case Schiller with the month by month data?

Posted by Paul Rowe on December 19th, 2014 10:58 AM
Thank you Paul for the comment. I went to the Case-Shiller Portland, Oregon index: http://us.spindices.com/indices/real-estate/sp-case-shiller-or-portland-home-price-index Under the chart on the right, I pressed the export button to download the data into a spreadsheet. Then I made the cart of average monthly index using that data.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on December 19th, 2014 11:14 AM
All home owners want to know the best time to sell their homes. Great article Gary.

Posted by Lucas on December 30th, 2014 1:16 AM
Thank you for your comment Lucas. The Case-Shiller Home Price Index is a great way to figure out the answer in Portland, Oregon.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on December 30th, 2014 9:24 AM
What a great answer to a FAQ. Very easy to follow and understand and great use of visual aids. It's one thing to read the text alone; however, when it is accompanied by the graphs it really drives home the point.

Posted by John Tsiaousis on December 30th, 2014 2:39 PM
Thank you John for your comment. I agree, the graphs are great. I thought I new the answer to the question before I wrote the blog, but I learned something in the process and now have a much greater understanding of the seasonal market swings in Portland, Oregon real estate. This blog helps me share what I know and, in the process, I learn many things.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on December 30th, 2014 2:58 PM
January and February are naturally the best time to always buy a home, especially in Portland. Selling in the summer area can be really difficult with the supply at its highest. I recommend that homeowners selling in the Portland be creative when selling homes. For instance, try building your own personal website to showcase your home.

Posted by Jeff Carbine on October 7th, 2016 9:12 AM
We see much of the same things in the Philadelphia housing market. If homeowners only had the option to hold off a few months before buying, it could potentially save them a fortune over the time of a 30-year mortgage.

Posted by Brad Harley on October 31st, 2017 12:29 PM


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