The booming real estate business has seen inventory declining in markets across the country, but the number of homes available for sale in Portland, Oregon fell to record lows last month.
The metro Portland real estate inventory dropped to 0.8 months’ worth in December, according to the Regional Multiple Listing Service. That’s the city's lowest inventory on record, the RMLS said in its latest “Market Action” report.
A real estate inventory measurement in months refers to the amount of time it would take to sell at the market’s current pace. So Portland’s real estate inventory would theoretically be depleted in less than a month if no new homes were listed for sale.
Dustin Miller, a local real estate broker at Windermere Realty Trust, told The Oregonian that the market was “well beyond records and in a crisis now.”
There were just 2,092 active residential listings in Portland in December, according to RMLS. That was compared to 3,904 a year earlier and 4,665 listings in December 2018.
The shortage is the result of both fewer homes being listed and more homes being sold.
The coronavirus pandemic caused a drop in homes going on the market across the country. RMLS data show that new listings in Portland declined in the spring when they normally begin to grow. By July the number of new listings caught up with 2019, but the number of new listings through the rest of the year never made up for the early decline.
Despite the lower inventory levels, the number of closed sales in Portland between July and December outpaced the previous four years, according to RMLS.
Record-low mortgage rates helped fuel home sales across the U.S. this year, Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, previously told Fox Business.
“The mortgage rate falling to record lows was simply too good to give up for many people,” he said.
As of October, housing inventory had dropped by 19.8% year-over-year across the country, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The seller’s market also has driven prices up. In Portland, the median sale price is up 13.2% year-over-year to $485,000, according to Redfin.
The Portland market’s inventory situation may not be improving in the immediate future.
Mortgage rates have risen slightly since the start of the year, but they’re still low. And Marine Conser, a local broker, told The Oregonian that new construction won’t be able to make up for the inventory gap anytime soon.
“There is not enough new construction in the foreseeable future to make up the difference so the market is expected to move at a similar pace in 2021,” Conser told the newspaper.