In the last few years, Portlanders have grown accustomed to hearing the city's real estate scene described as "red hot." Some even throw around phrases like "out of control." And it's true that values have rocketed up as properties change hands like mad; according to one tally, Portland saw its second-highest-volume real-estate year ever in 2006, with $10.4 billion in sales. When mock Tudors in North Portland hit the market at more than a half-mil, it's easy to get depressed and start searching for stuff in Oklahoma.

Take heart. The median price for the whole metro area finished '06 at $270,000—steeper than the national figure of $220,000 but still about half of California's median. The average Southeast Portland pad sold for about $235,000 last year. That means there are still relative bargains out there. We pored over and scouted properties listed at $250,000 or less. These particular spots were all on the market in mid-March. They might be long gone by the time you're reading this, but this list should give you a rough feel for what to expect (hope for?) on the warpath.

What you get: Radiant heat, a fireplace, water filtration and a fenced, private back yard. It's like your grandmother's house.
Neighborhood: Vernon. On a quiet street smack dab in between Northeast and North Portland, near Lombard Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Square feet: 888
Year built: 1950

What you get: The rooms are small, but the garage is big.
Neighborhood: South Tabor. Sure, it's a little far out, and sure, one of the neighborhood boundaries is 82nd Avenue. But the streets are quiet and surprisingly homey.
Square feet: 1,130
Year built: 1905

What you get: The upside to a small condo is that you have more reason to get out and explore. And when you do, you can marvel at the Spanish-inspired exterior of the building.
Neighborhood: Sunnyside. Just blocks from both the Belmont and the Hawthorne shopping districts and all of their bars and quirky shops. There's a reason there aren't any affordable houses in the area.
Square feet: 700
Year built: 1927

What you get: Making up for an unimpressive lot, this small, single-level ranch house has a nicely finished interior, a large utility room, a shop and a garage.
Neighborhood: Sellwood, home to antiques, boutiques and the biggest sushi rolls in Portland (Saburo's).
Square feet: 752
Year built: 1947

What you get: Old apartment buildings converted into condo units pack a bit more charm than the cookie-cutter affairs in the Pearl; this one has hardwood floors and a patio.
Neighborhood: Northwest Portland. For all of its faults (abysmal parking, snooty shoppers, drunken kids on the weekends), this enclave is actually a pretty nice place to live.Square feet: 552
Year built: 1909

What you get: A newish townhouse with a bay window in the living room, three bedrooms and parking in the back of the lot.
Neighborhood: Boise. Not far from Mississippi Avenue shopping, the neighborhood has a quiet feel that belies its proximity to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Interstate 5.
Square feet: 1,140
Year built: 1995

What you get: Slightly awkward frontage hides both the useful (two bedrooms and an office) and the sublime (a staggering vine-covered yard with bricked pathways).
Neighborhood: Brooklyn, split by railroad tracks and Powell Boulevard, sports the rough-and-tumble feel of what Southeast Portland used to be: grungy bars, bizarre bookstores and cheapo Asian restaurants.
Square feet: 2,012
Year built: 1911

What you get: A two-story townhouse in posh West Hills is apparently more affordable than you would think. This one has a large deck overlooking downtown, slate floors and an impressive tiled bathroom.
Neighborhood: West Hills. There's a surprising amount of charm in the winding roads around Broadway and Patton Road, including a smattering of neighborhood haunts and a bustling grocery store.
Square feet: 867
Year built: 1968

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