Oregon Wildfires Impact on Real Estate Market

Source: Dan Myers

2020 has been a wild ride. With a global pandemic, a divisive election, and many other massive occurrences, it has been a year that no one will ever forget. For residents of Oregon and some areas of Washington, this unforgettably crazy year got a lot worse in September, when the most destructive wildfire season the area has seen occurred.

More than a million acres of land and thousands of homes across Oregon were destroyed, and the skies above Portland were filled with smoke. The implications this wildfire season will have on the real estate market of Portland are not as severe as they are in other areas of Oregon that have been harder hit, but the shockwaves from this catastrophe can still be felt.

Portland’s population has rapidly grown in recent years. According to Williamette Week, the population of Portland has grown by 400,000 in the past decade. This is due to a variety of factors. Many people are leaving California, searching for greener pastures.

“…many people were forced into unwanted migration.”

Portland is another Western city that is attractive to Californians with a wandering eye. Another reason is the growing economy of Portland, which continues to grow at a rate higher than the U.S in general. According to Portland Alliance, the Portland job growth rate grew by 2% in 2020, while the U.S average was 1.6%.

As a result of this growth, Portland is a solid seller’s market. There is a lower supply of homes in the city than there is demand, which drives prices up and makes Portland an expensive real estate market. According to oregonlive.com, the median sales price for a home in Portland was $449,000 in August, which was a 1% increase from July.

These prices are going to continue to rise if inventory doesn’t grow. According to the same oregonlive.com article, in August, the number of new listings in the Portland area decreased 8.3% from July. The decrease in supply increases competition which only drives prices up higher.

Source: Dan Myers

The impact of the wildfire can be felt in this regard as well. According to the same article by oregonlive.com, home and rent prices rose in unaffected areas of Portland during the wildfires due to people relocating. With so many areas of Oregon becoming unlivable, and a lot of valuable property going up in flames, many people were forced into unwanted migration.

This will impact Oregon heavily, as replacing such a significant amount of affordable houses that have been lost to this catastrophe will be timely and costly. Oregon was already struggling to keep up with the high volume of demand, as according to Bloomberg, the state fell short of housing needs by an estimated 155,00 units before the fire. With a large homeless population already a serious issue in Oregon, the state’s housing shortage will be dangerously increased by this crisis.

Portland is one of America’s most unique cities. With a growing population, a compelling culture, and economic opportunities, it is still somewhere many people should want to live.

While the wildfires have been extremely alarming and have only magnified the housing issues already in place, it shouldn’t change the fact that Portland, and Oregon as a whole, have a lot to offer. 2020 was a year of massive change, and although the addition of massive wildfires has amplified the damage of the year, Portland and Oregon are still a worthwhile investment.

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