Seattle, Portland lead in rising home prices

    Home prices are accelerating in Portland and cities across the country as buyers compete for a thin supply of homes.

    Prices in the Portland metro area climbed 9.7 percent in February from a year earlier, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index.

    Portland was second only to the Seattle area, which saw home prices climb 12.2 percent. Nationally, prices jumped 5.8 percent, setting a 32-month high.

    Of the 20 metro areas included in the index, 15 saw annual price increases accelerate in February, potentially setting the stage for more sticker shock in the spring and summer home-buying season.

    The number of homes on the market has remained persistently low, and would-be buyers continue to bid prices higher as a result. The biggest increases have been among the lowest-priced homes, putting them further out of reach for first-time homebuyers.

    The starter home has become an endangered species in Portland’s robust real estate market — even for middle-income earners with decent savings.

    A potential increase in mortgage rates and slower rent growth could help put the brakes on home-price gains, said Svenja Gudell, chief economist for the real-estate website Zillow.

    “Both could put a dent in home-buyer demand and overall price growth and affordability,” Gudell said. “Those changes won’t necessarily be unwelcome, especially in some rapidly growing coastal markets in which buyers, sellers and renters could all use a breather.”

    The Case-Shiller index uses repeat sales of the same homes to measure values across an entire market. It’s a three-month rolling average.

    The median Portland-area home sold for $353,400 in February, according to the Regional Multiple Listing Service. That figure climbed to $370,000 in March.



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