Portland, the largest city in the state of Oregon, is located at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers on the state's northern border. The Willamette flows directly through the heart of downtown Portland, giving rise to one of the city's best-known nicknames: Bridgetown. Portland is also widely known as the City of Roses, a name it picked up in 1888 due to its ideal climate for rose gardening. The city sits on 133 square miles of territory, including nearly 20 square miles of public parks, recreation areas, gardens, urban forests and open public space.

Portland was home to an estimated population of 620,000 people as of 2014, up from roughly 584,000 as of the 2010 census. It is located in the heart of Oregon's largest metropolitan area, which is home to more than 2.4 million people in total. As in most large cities, the Portland real estate market took a hit in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. However, price declines were relatively moderate, and the market returned to price growth in 2012.

Market Insights

The Portland real estate market reached its bottom in 2011 when the median sale price for residential property in the city dropped below $240,000 for the first time since 2005. The bottom was short-lived, however. By summer 2013, median prices had broken through the $300,000 level, roughly equaling the city's high-water mark set during the summers of 2007 and 2008. The upward price trend continued through 2014, hitting the $350,000 mark in August 2015 on the strength of sales volumes not seen since market highs in 2007. The median price level fell back slightly to $325,000 at the beginning of the new year and sat at $336,500 in April 2016.

A softening in prices and sales volumes in autumn and winter is a regular occurrence in the Portland real estate market, roughly coinciding with the city's long rainy season. In each of the prior three years, the month of March marked the annual low in median price and sales volume. In each year, growth returned in April and continued through the month of August and into September.

Property and Transfer Taxes

In Oregon, property tax revenue is a primary source of operating funds for school districts, local governments and a range of other public services, including libraries, health care, park maintenance and fire protection. Most property taxes are subject to strict limits under the constitution of Oregon. Property taxes earmarked for schools are limited to $5 per $1,000 of actual property value, an effective tax rate of 0.5%. Property taxes earmarked for the operation of government and for all other ongoing public services combined are limited to $10 per $1,000 of property value, a rate of 1%. Property taxes may also fund voter-approved capital projects and other investments, which are not subject to the same constitutional limits.

Any given property in Portland sits within multiple independent taxing districts, some countywide and others no wider than a neighborhood. Thus, tax rates paid by homeowners in the city vary according to the specific location of a property. On average, however, residents in Portland pay an overall property tax rate of $13.31 per $1,000 of actual property value, or 1.33%. This figure includes all property taxes for school districts, government and public service districts, and voter-approved capital projects. Real estate transfer taxes in Portland and nearly all other Oregon cities were banned under a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2012.

Most Expensive Neighborhoods

The most expensive area in Portland is the Irvington-Grant Park neighborhood in the northeast quadrant of the city. According to sales figures for the second quarter of 2015, the most recent neighborhood-level figures available, Irvington-Grant Park homes sold for an average price of roughly $662,000. Homes in the Nob Hill neighborhood located northwest of downtown Portland brought an average price of about $594,000. The downtown district came in as the third most expensive neighborhood in the city, with homes in multifamily residential buildings and high-rises going for an average price of over $566,000. In the greater Portland metropolitan area, the suburb of Lake Oswego is home to the area's most expensive homes, with average sales prices exceeding $710,000.

Top Real Estate Websites

For real estate news and analysis, Portland Monthly news magazine is a good place to turn. The magazine maintains a real estate portal on its website at PDXMonthly.com, delivering regular coverage of real estate market developments and insightful analysis of local real estate trends affecting the wider Portland metropolitan area. The state's leading newspaper, the Oregonian, is another good source of news, analysis and real estate listings. Its website is at OregonLive.com. Home listings and market data are also available from a variety of national websites, including Zillow, Trulia and others, as well as marketing websites operated by Portland-area real estate agents.

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