Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Portland Home Prices Drop 11.5% in November

The November Case Shiller data was released this morning and November's median price for an existing home in Portland was down 11.5% year over year. (click on any chart to expand it to readable size)

The monthly change was even worse, down 2.3% from October, the largest drop we've seen to date. Or ever.

While the other markets seem to be stabilizing Portland prices seems to be accelerating in the wrong direction. Recent news of layoffs at OHSU, Intel and others certainly won't help the picture either, adding another layer to the cake of misery which includes increasing foreclosures, lack or credit, and ARM mortgages resetting.

The chart above shows the price index for the past three years. You can clearly see that prices have now dropped to 2005 levels and continue to fall. Pop.

The above chart shows Portland, Seattle, the San Francisco bay area (the other areas I consider as closest to Portland) as well as the 20-city composite index. Portland and Seattle are tracking each other very closely, still about a year behind the rest of the market. The 20 city index started to flatten out a few months ago and it looks like the San Francisco Bay area has also started to slow down. We'll need a few more months of data before calling it a trend, but maybe prices have dropped enough for the scavengers to snap up foreclosures and prop up prices.

For comparison, the San Francisco market is down 30.8% in November, but was down 31.1.% in October. It looks like things might be stabilizing a bit down there.

Seattle also saw a massive drop in November, dropping 2.5% from October, and down 11.2% from last year.

This chart shows the price index for the past 8 years. I also added a line (the light grey line) that represents 5% growth starting in September 2000. You can see that the current price index is still above the 5% growth line, indicating that we have a ways to go before prices fall back in line with historic averages.

Proving once again that the only constant with forecasts is the ability to be wrong, just 2 months ago I predicted that prices wouldn't be back to historic norms until late 2009. It now looks like we'll be back at the historic trend line by April 2009. I doubt things will stabilize there however, as the recession just seems to be picking up steam at this point. If we assume Portland will react like the rest of the market we're looking at price declines throughout 2009. However as the NAR likes to remind us all real estate is local, so if our economy is doing worse than the rest of the nation look for prices to continue to fall into 2010.

This chart is more for historical curiosity than anything. It shows the previous bubble in the early 90's, and also shows that Portland prices had never dropped over the past 20 years, until 2008. But as they say, past performance is no guarantee of future performance!

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices measures the residential housing market, tracking changes in the value of the residential real estate market in 20 metropolitan regions across the United States. These indices use the repeat sales pricing technique to measure housing markets. First developed by Karl Case and Robert Shiller, this methodology collects data on single-family home re-sales, capturing re-sold sale prices to form sale pairs. This index family consists of 20 regional indices and two composite indices as aggregates of the regions.

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Greg said...

The increase in Portland home price-loss acceleration should not surprise. I shopped for Portland homes/condos in early 2007 expecting to find deals but was surprised that prices hadn't fallen relative to the rest of the US. Real-estate brokers had the infamous argument for intransigent Portland prices: "It's different here due to the influx of urbanization demand. It's a great time to buy!" I replied that this was the rationalization given in states like Florida and California and cities like Las Vegas, Chicago and New York last year...

Does it please me to see home price valuations burn up in smoke? Absolutely. Is that petty? Not at all. Real estate brokers and speculators drove up prices for the past decade and forced responsible hard-working potential buyers who ordinarily would have bought onto the sidelines and into rentals. This is called payback and yes, I am enjoying watching it unfold with pure satisfaction and a relatively fat banking account full of downpayment cash.

The fact is that its still much cheaper to rent an equivalent level of quality home/condo than it is to buy it. Most of the fools bought already and the remaining can no longer get a mortgage... We still have a considerable way to go on the downside.

Anonymous said...

Portland is only in the intial stage of a collapse in real estate prices. PDX is different only that we were late to the appreciation party & were late to the correction in home prices. Funny thing is while other markets started collapsing in 06-07 the mantra here was PDX is different. How could people be so stupid to believe the B.S. from NAR & the local economists. All this does is highlight the sheer aggrogance & stupidity of most in the local R.E. profession & that includes the out of touch local economists.

Prices have already fallen to 11/05 levels very rapidly. Look for all appreciation from 2005 (which was siginificant) to be wiped out by year end. Look out 2004 prices we will be there by 2010.

My prediction is around 200K median prices by the end of the year with around $180K medians in 2010. I am also predicting negative population growth for both PDX & Oregon since our economy is tanking much harder than most other western states.

Anonymous said...

It seems that some areas of Portland, namely the NW hills with the exception of the McMansions, are showing prices that are line with the 3-4% appreciation rates if you go back to 2001 and calculate forward. What does this say about the area?

Since they didn't experience the rapid bubble appreciation, they seemingly don't have as far to drop. Of course, the only certainty is uncertainty. As a buyer on the sidelines, it would be nice to have an idea of anticipated correction rates in specific geographic areas. There is quite a level of variability, and not all areas are representative of the aggregate "Portland market."

If I don't purchase within the next month, I need to find a rental suitable for a family. So, there's a tradeoff in lost rent, tax deduction benefit, and risk of increased interest rates over time. I'm also incented by having closing and moving costs paid for if I purchase in the next 8 months.

It seems that unless prices completely tank, and tank worse than what would be expected in terms of affordability index and reasonable appreciation levels, it is more expensive to rent. The calculation is complex, and of course, the interest rates, house prices, and rate of decline are all variable factors.

I'd love to hear some input, especially regarding the NW hills (still Portland addresses in the 97229 zip code).

PDX Outsider said...

Anon 2/24,

I wouldn't say that West Portland avoided the bubble. They probably didn't bubble up quite as much as other areas, but I still think prices are due for a correction.

Trulia has some interesting stats if you want to take a look:


If I look at the RMLS data for Jan 09 vs. Ja 08, the "West Portland" area has seen a drop in median prices from $399k to $347k, a drop of 13% which is very much in line with the overall price declines in Portland.

If this decline keeps up you would expect to lose another 5-7% over the next 6 months, or $25k on a $500k house. That will easily cover your closing costs and part of your moving costs.

I created a rent vs buy calculator a few months ago that you can try, but in general my advice would be to wait. The price declines in Portland seem to be getting worse not better and you will likely have even more leverage in 6 months, and probably more inventory in the middle of the summer.

Just remember, renting isn't throwing money away. You can easily rent a house these days for less than it would cost to own it, and also not end up underwater on the house.

See today's post for an update on the Case Shiller data through December. The January RMLS numbers are even worse!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response, and I just noticed the January Case-Shiller data which is quite interesting.

On Trulia for zip 97229, they are showing a year over year decline of only 2.8%. I don't see the 13% drop. West Portland is a different area than 97229 in my opinion, so I don't think it's an apples to apples comparison.

What started as a search to find a nice house has turned into a maniacal fascination with the numbers and market trends. All good stuff here, and I'm eager to see what the future brings.

PDX Outsider said...

"What started as a search to find a nice house has turned into a maniacal fascination with the numbers and market trends. All good stuff here, and I'm eager to see what the future brings."

The same thing happened to us, but I was lucky in that I was looking at multi-family buildings which have rental histories. That helped me realize how out of touch prices were from prevailing rent levels, and killed out search.

The West Portland data comes from the RMLS report, and I agree it doesn't match 97229. I don't know the west side as well as we live on the east side and our search focused here.

Shoot me an email if you want to chat more offline. If you're a data hound like me I'd be happy to share what I know off the record.