You’ve heard it before: the three most important factors in a real estate purchase are location, location, location. This is particularly true in the Portland Metro area, but do you know why?
Conventional real estate investors will tell you that location is important because it defines the range of the property’s value and determines the relative liquidity (how quickly and easily the property will sell) of the home, building or land. This is true. It would be much more difficult to sell a 3000 square foot, 4 bedroom, 3 bath home on the busy intersection of SE Cesar Chavez Boulevard at Burnside, for example, than it would be to sell the same house a few blocks away on a quiet intersection of residential streets in Laurelhurst. The average sale price for a home in the Laurelhurst Neighborhood is $716,000, but the home on the busy intersection is likely to sell for at least $100,000 less than the exact same house in a more favorable spot.
That said, the average sale price in the Portland Metro area is about $395,000. Homes listed for sale below that amount that are in reasonably good condition and in an acceptable location (away from industrial areas, decrepit properties, etc.) will sell more quickly than homes listed above that price simply because there are more buyers who can afford homes lower priced homes.
There are three other critical reasons to choose your location first: lifestyle, employment, and your future plans.
One of the reasons people love living in Portland is the amazing range of recreational options. Do you love to snowboard, mountain climb or windsurf? Does the beach tingle your ties? Does hiking in the coast range snap your socks? Do you love the Trailblazers, our amazing live music scene, or the shopping and nightlife of The Pearl District? How you spend your discretionary time is critical to your happiness with your home. While you may like the affordability of homes in Forest Grove, if you love going to Winterhawks games, comedy shows, and Portland’s many festivals, you’re in for a lot of driving to get where you really want to be. Make sure the neighborhoods you identify match who you are and the life you live so you’ll want to stay a while.
Unless you work from home or you love commuting for hours each day (and I know some people who do), you will want to have a fairly good idea of where you’re likely to be working and select the location of your next home in relatively close proximity to your place of work. I’ve helped several Nike and Intel employees buy and sell homes recently, and the changing landscape of the Beaverton-Hillsboro-Bethany area has made finding the right home easier than it once was. There are a range of options from homes with acreage to urban-style townhomes at Orenco Station to large suburban neighborhoods from which to choose. Your buyer’s agent should be able to give you a good idea of what the options in your target are, and If you anticipate changing jobs, you may want to go for a more central location that will give you the greatest amount of flexibility in your search.
Whether you have children or plan to in the future, do consider where you want them to attend school. The quality of the schools are a major factor in determining where to buy a home for many people, and it’s fairly easy to find out how people feel about their children’s school. You can take a look at the school’s website, chat with parents on Facebook or in a local coffee shop, and scan the local news to get a sense of the school’s focus (academic, arts, science and tech, athletics, etc.).
Your current lifestyle or future plans may also include pets, visiting or living with aging parents, marriage or divorce, children growing up and leaving the nest, taking on a new business, hobby, sport, or artistic pursuit. All of those factors could impact the kind of space you want to live in and the other amenities you may need in the years ahead.
After determining your location preferences, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why are you purchasing now?
- How soon would you like to move into the house?
- Have you met with a lender or will this be a cash purchase?
- If you are financing, who will be your lender and what kind of loan will you be using?
- How much of a down payment are you planning to put down and do you have that cash available now?
- Are you aware of any issues that could prevent you from getting a loan or making this purchase?
- What 3 features are most important to you about the house you want to buy?
- What’s your price range for this purchase and is it realistic for the neighborhoods you’re looking in?
- What’s the minimum/ideal number of bedrooms, baths, garage/parking spaces, and square footage/size?
When you think you’re ready to buy a house, contact a realtor to represent you as a buyer’s agent. There is typically little to no charge for this service, and a good buyer’s agent will save you time and money, steer you clear of potential mistakes, and make the buying process smooth and enjoyable.
Juli Gun is a Principal Real Estate Broker representing both sellers and buyers with Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty in Portland, Oregon. To contact: Cell +1-971-808-9618 or email firstname.lastname@example.org