Real Estate Prices Picking Up in NW Oregon

by Erik Knoder

December 10, 2018

Home prices continue to rise in many cities across the nation. The widely quoted Case-Shiller Index of national home prices showed a 5.5 percent increase over the year to September 2018. That was just slightly less than the year before. The index has been increasing since January 2012, and it’s now nearly 11 percent higher than its pre-Great Recession peak. This raises the question, how is the real estate market in Northwest Oregon? The answer is that most Northwest Oregon counties are doing as well or better. Residential property median sales prices reported by RMLS rose 11.6 percent to $308,300 for the North Coast region (Clatsop, Tillamook, and Lincoln counties combined) and in Columbia County to $302,300 over the year to September 2018.  This is based on a 12-month moving average.

North Coast residential prices increased a little faster in 2018 than in 2017. In 2017, the median price increase was about 10.7 percent over the year to September. In Columbia County the average price increase was 9.2 percent over the year to September 2017. So, the residential market remained fairly hot along the north coast and Columbia County in 2018.

The 12-month average of median sales price (shown in the chart) bottomed out in January 2012 in the North Coast region at $201,533. Monthly median sales prices are more volatile. The low point for monthly median sales price for the three counties was $175,000 back in January 2013. The 12-month average of Columbia County’s median sales prices reached its low point in January 2012 at $156,033. By all measures it seems certain that the low point in housing prices passed for the North Coast and Columbia County.

The number of closed sales (1,350) in the North Coast region from January through September 2018 entered into the RMLS system was about 30 more than those same months in 2017. In Columbia County, the number of closed sales (678) from January through September dropped by 24 from 2017. All told, it seems as though the market volume in both regions has moderated a bit from the previous year.

The data are from RMLS of Portland and combine Clatsop, Tillamook, and Lincoln counties into one reporting area for the North Coastal counties. Not all realtors in the North Coast counties report sales to RMLS. RMLS has fairly limited data for Benton County so it is not presented here.

One drawback in using home sales to evaluate the real estate market is that the quality of houses sold each month is not consistent; one month may see more high-quality houses sold, the next month may see more low-quality houses being sold. One way around this problem is to use economic models to estimate values for all the residential property in an area. Zillow does this modeling and makes the data available on the company’s website. Their estimates for the median home values is show in the chart.

The Zillow estimates for the five counties in Northwest Oregon show that home values have surpassed their pre-recession highs in Benton, Clatsop, and Columbia counties. Median home prices in Lincoln and Tillamook counties’ have not yet attained their pre-recession levels although they are close to doing so. Zillow’s estimates of Lincoln and Tillamook median values somewhat contradict the home sales data from RMLS. But these data sets do measure different values in different ways so some discrepancies are to be expected.

Employment in real estate related businesses has surpassed pre-recession levels for the five Northwest Oregon counties as a region. Comparing 2007 with 2017 employment in real estate and rental companies, Benton County added 37 jobs, Clatsop County added 94 jobs, and Lincoln County gained 44 jobs. Columbia County lost 5 jobs and Tillamook County was still down by 16 jobs.

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