Activity in the Portland real estate market slumped in the first quarter of 2023, with new listings, pending sales, and closed sales all falling compared with the year-ago period, according to the latest report from the Regional Multiple Listing Service, a firm that tracks sales in the Northwest.
RMLS doesn’t give reasons for market changes, providing just data, but higher interest rates have been weighing on the market for months, and they appeared to suppress activity again in the first quarter. New listings fell 25% to 6,389, pending sales dropped 30% to 5,358, and closed sales tumbled 34% to 4,340, RMLS said.
Prices, meantime, held firmer, with the median sale price falling just 2.8% to $514,900. Inventory in March 2023 rose just 0.9% from March 2022, RMLS said.
Aryne Blumklotz, a broker at Living Room Realty, says the market is in flux because the outlook for interest rates is so murky. Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have gyrated between 4.72% and 7.08% during the past 12 months, according to Freddie Mac. They stood at 6.28% on April 6.
“There is no rhyme or reason to this market,” Blumklotz says. “If interest rates would just hold, we could all get our heads around it. The changes make people anxious about buying and selling.”
Some houses are sitting on the market, Blumklotz says, while bidders fight over others. A property in a posh eastside neighborhood got four offers, all of them over $1 million, and all in cash, she says.
“We were as aggressive as we could be,” Blumklotz said of her bidder.
Buyers are still coming to Portland from out of state, Blumklotz says. She has represented several from California, one of whom closed this week and another coming later this month.
Those sales are good news for sellers amid shrinking population in Multnomah County. The county’s population stood at 795,083 on July 1, 2022, down 1.3% from 805,593 a year earlier, the U.S. Census Bureau said March 30. Multnomah’s population fell by about the same amount in 2021.