Portland-area home shoppers, millennials see few listings, higher prices

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The Portland area had 19.2% fewer houses for sale in 2019 compared to the previous year, while the median listing price of $469,450 held steady, according to the December 2019 Housing Trends report released Tuesday by Realtor.com.

The huge drop in inventory added to the burden of people wanting to buy a home in the Portland metro, which includes Vancouver, Washington, where the median listing price is 36% more than the national median of $299,950.

Realtor.com found price jumps accelerated in the last 12 months among the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas with the deepest inventory declines.

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California, suffered a 33.1% drop in active listings with median asking prices rising 7.5% to $1.074 million, while Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington, endured a 31.8% decrease in active listings with median asking prices increasing 5.8% to $582,000. Nationally, prices analyzed in the report rose 3% year-over-year.

Inventory in the U.S. is at its lowest level since January 2018 and declines were seen across all price categories, including the luxury market, according to the report.

Economists with the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, known as Freddie Mac, forecast that national homes sales will increase modestly, from 6 million in 2019 to 6.2 million in 2020 and to 6.3 million in 2021, due to low inventory.

Inventory is calculated by dividing the active residential listings at the end of the month by the number of closed sales and homes proposed and under construction.

Freddie Mac predicts house price growth will decline with annual rates of 2.8% in 2020 and 2.1% in 2021, even though the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is expected to remain low, around 3.8%, during that period.

Portland led the way among 15 metros that saw an increase in their share of price reductions compared to 2018. Portland had a 14.7% jump, followed by Indiana’s Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson metro’s 3.1% increase and Texas’ Houston-The Woodlands-Sugarland’s 2.6% rise.

Residential properties in Portland metro spent a median of 77 days on the market, which is a slight increase — three days — compared to 2018. Nationally, homes sold in 79 days, two days faster.

“The market is struggling with a large housing undersupply just as 4.8 million millennials are reaching 30 years of age in 2020, a prime age for many to purchase their first home,” Realtor.com Senior Economist George Ratiu stated in a news release. “The significant inventory drop we saw in December is a harbinger of the continuing imbalance expected to plague this year’s markets, as the number of homes for sale are poised to reach historically low levels.”

Three of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas had more listings and a drop in asking prices in 2019 compared to 2018: San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas, 8.8% more inventory; Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota, 7.4%, and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nevada, 4.8%.

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