Market TrendsPortland January 8, 2021

Reflecting on 2020: How has real estate changed?

When COVID-19 first came to Oregon, most of my clients put their real estate activities on hold. It really looked like it was going to be a few weeks or months of wait-and-see. I did not expect to sell much until post-pandemic, whenever that might be. My expectations could not have been more wrong.

Once it became clear that the new normal of quarantining, working from home, and online schooling were here to stay — at least for a while — housing needs changed in big ways. With multiple adults and kids all trying to do their school and work in the same space, houses became too small. With commuting concerns out of the picture, the suburbs got a lot more attractive. And with interest rates at all-time lows, buyers flooded the market.

With little else to do in their spare time, homeowners renovated, remodeled, and beautified their space. I started my home gym, since going to a gym was no longer a safe option. I wasn’t the only one — some of the equipment I ordered was backordered for upwards of six months!

The housing gap increased, though, as many low-wage workers lost their employment, and had to wait months for a response to their unemployment claims. New laws came into effect to allow most people to stay in their homes and get nonpayment of rent or mortgages deferred or forgiven. This has proved to be a finger in a dam, and a problem that will continue to demand government attention moving forward. This particular set of circumstances made investment properties a lot less attractive, but if those buyers left the market, it doesn’t show in purchasing trends.

Homes regularly get multiple offers and sell well above their asking prices all over the Portland metro-area. If you’re looking to sell right now, you’re in luck. That’s not to say buyers are hopeless, though. You just have to be willing to compete. If a new listing hits the market, be prepared to pay above the asking price — sometimes by a lot. Understand that it may take a few tries before you write an offer that gets accepted. But the interest rates are in buyers’ favor, and as specific location matters less and less for professionals who work mostly from home, more buyers are coming to our neighborhood — because a lot of people who have the choice of living anywhere choose the Pacific Northwest. Can you blame them? This incoming migration trend signals that home values will likely continue to climb.

There are perks for buyers and sellers in a market like this, and now more than ever, it’s important to find a home you love — you could be stuck inside your walls for a while.