We hear the lament all the time: “I’ve been priced out of the Portland market.” First, it is only fair that I let you know that we own four homes in Portland so I come from the “other” side. Second, the grass is always greener over the septic tank.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I think what is really being said most of the time is that, “I’ve been priced out of living in my dream neighborhood in my dream house so woe is me.” When I bought my first house, I was fortunate to have down payment help but I also had three roommates paying towards the mortgage. Dream situation? No.
Every home purchase has trade offs. When prices started to skyrocket in the Bay Area, Petaluma, an hour to the north on a good day to San Francisco, was an acceptable commute in order to own a home for some. Many of those homes are now worth seven figures themselves. Think of that in Portland terms: you could live 10 minutes south of Salem and still have what those folk viewed as an acceptable daily commute.
You can still spend less than $200,000 and have a Portland address. It may not be where you want to live but you would own it. It is absolutely true that you can rent more house for your dollar than you can buy in Portland. That is a lifestyle choice for many. Homeownership is not for everyone. We can banter about the tax benefits, that prices are going to drop drastically (they are not in my opinion) or what have you, but my point is that if you want the privilege (it is not a given right) of owning a home and you have planned accordingly it should be possible in this market. If it is not possible today, you have to assess your situation and see what you need to do to make it possible in the future under what are reasonable assumptions of lending requirements in the future. Of course there is an income component and I won’t discount it.