Home Buying in Portland>Question Details

Michelle, Renter in Jersey City, NJ

Renting in New Jersey in our late 20s, looking to buy/invest in downtown Portland, Oregon.

Asked by Michelle, Jersey City, NJ Fri Dec 14, 2012

We recently visited Portland from Jersey City and liked it a lot. We are thinking about moving to Portland in the near future. Is it a smart choice to buy a property and rent it out in downtown Portland and eventually move there when the time comes? Are condos more difficult to rent out than houses?

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When making investments in anything, it comes down to timing and buying at the right price! As for timing, it is pretty good right now. Not great, because our inventory levels are low so this helps the seller get a little more. As for condos vs a single family home? I specialize in the Portland condo market and I will give you my honest opinion. More often than not a single family home could be a better investment. One of the reasons is there are just many more opportunities to buy single family homes at a great price. You can sometimes pick up a condo for a great price, and when you do , it can be a very good investment. Right now the rental market is HOT! So you can buy and have your investment be a positive cash flow, even paying HOA's. But the catch you need to look at is the rental market going to continue this way for sometime? If you are planning on buying now and renting for a year or two, I think you would do just fine. If your time frame is farther out before you plan to move into the condo, the rental market could change... this is your risk because if rental market does slow down you may not be in a positive cash flow situation.
Buying a downtown condo can be a good investment. Like I said above, it is about timing and buying right. Also remember, many times you are buying a lifestyle, not just a condo. You may be paying a slight premium (HOA fees) for this lifestyle. For many condo owners, they love it and wouldn't have it any other way!

Best of luck!

Brad Golik
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 18, 2012
Our rental pool is less than 4% vacancy rate. You can rent a condo for about $2 a foot. This usually will not cover all your costs when you figure the HOA'S and taxes but in the long run freezing the price at today's interest rate 3.4% is a good idea as we are starting to see a turn around in values over this past year and they said in the news this week that they are not really looking to start much of anything in the next year except maybe one condo project so the market there will become tighter than it is now. A house is always a better rental choice but you have to look at what want to do? Managing a house from a different city is hard so you would have to pay a property manager 9% to collect the rent and find some one to mow the lawn and clean the gutters where if you had a property manager screen the tenants and only charge 1/2 months rent and then turn over to you because when living in a condo you only have to worry about interior issues it is much easier. Love to help you and I understand rentals and prices. Give me a call. Thanks,
Tom Inglesby, RE/MAX Equity Group
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 14, 2012
Hi Michelle,

Great question! Now is a great time to buy because interest rates are so low, and there is some uncertainty as to if the Fed will raise rates soon. Buying a condo in Downtown Portland, the Pearl District, Uptown and the South Waterfront is a great investment right now. Prices are at as close to the bottom as you are going to find. Traditionally Portland Real Estate Trends are behind New Jersey, so if you see it picking up there, we are going to heat up as well really soon. In fact W Portland saw about 4.2% appreciation this past 12 months. That is a great sign for the coming spring. Now as far as renting, you will have no problems renting a unit out. Especially if you choose your building wisely. I specialize in the area you are looking. Be sure you choose an advocate who really knows the downtown market! Check out my website for more info on me. I look forward to connecting with you soon!!
Web Reference: http://www.urbanvue.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2012
This is a tough question, because it hugely depends on your goals and financial situation. The timing is good price wise, but you need to consider your time frame and a host of other issues that come with home ownership, like does the Association have restrictions on rentals.

If you are considering a move in the near future, why not wait until you are certain of the move and any lifestyle factors that may come with that e.g. location of employer, income, etc. Downtown Pdx is a great place, but there are other close in neighborhoods that might also appeal to you, like The Pearl, South Waterfront or Nob Hill. Pricing of course becomes and issue no matter where you go, along with the health of the Homeowners Association. A skilled agent can help you sort through all of these issues to find you an awesome place to rent in the short term and call home down the road. If you decide to move forward I would suggest you contact a couple of management companies to assist you in the rental management of the property.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2012

There are a lot of affordable homes in Portland. It is best to get in touch with your Mortgage Broker or Bank to pre-qualify you as to the amount you are able to invest in Portland.

Because it will be an investment property, which is going to be a Rental or Second Home, the criteria for qualifications will be different.

Whether it is a house or condo, it will depend on the location and rent amount.

Best wishes,

Anita Desilva, GRI
Real Estate Broker
Realty Solutions, LLC.
Portland, Oregon 97225
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 14, 2012
Inner SE & inner NE are close to downtown and may be worth considering. We've had rentals in our family since the 70's in the Eugen and Portland areas and there are many benefits. We've always managed our properties directly and in the inner SE / NE areas had less than a day or two turn around. For desirable locations and well kept properties, I've experienced a great applicant pool. Talk with your accountant about principal reduction, interest write, and depreciation and how these may benefit you.

I agree, condos are often not as profitable as single family properties due to the HOA fees. However, as an absentee landlord, they may be less headache. Especially, if your plan is to live in the condo in a year or so. I've worked with many retired couples moving from the east coast into downtown condos (or inner SE) and they are all very happy. Most have liked options with patios w/the ability to grow a few plants.

Good luck with your decision. I recommend talking with your accountant first. Then clarify your goals. Typically, a good rental will have different criteria than the next ideal home. Many investors I work with look for a 3 bedroom single family or duplex, in a good location + condition, under $350 . . .many clients factor purchase price, taxes + expenses and potential rent amounts.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 14, 2012
I gave Tom a thumbs up for general information. Again, we would need to know WHEN you plan to move here. Though I feel real estate has more bottom to it, (in general nationally) this really is a better time to buy rentals than Ive seen in almost 15 years. Rising rates would shut that down fast!

If you graph current prices, rental income, costs of ownership and PITI with these low rates, we are almost at crossing. Investors have been slurping up smaller,older homes and lower priced shorts and foreclosed (REO) properties because our greatly increasing rents pay the costs and give a return. This also drive prices up on that small segment of housing until it no longer makes sense. Investors here and from other countries have really been throwing money around and brought up rental targets to almost a neutal growth level. That activity is where the numbers came from that the ignorant media uses to state "Values are rising---the recession has turned around!"

Nope nope. Nothing has turned around. Look around you. Buy gas, milk, insurance, etc. Obummers re-election and Democratic control has insured our decay. I say that not just for soapboxing---its important to consider all economic factors when buying houses now.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 14, 2012
Prices are starting to inch up again, and interest rates are still at historic lows. If you are thinking of moving to Portland, you can take advantage of the buying environment now. Depending on your price range, finding a condo to fit your needs may take some time. As you look at properties to determine which building you like, you will also need to pay attention to which buildings restrict the number of rentals. My familiarity with the condominium market may be helpful to you in this regard. If there is anything I can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to contact me.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 14, 2012
One would need to know your time frame before gving an accurate answer. Condos are a mixed bag. I wouldnt buy a condo in Oregon for a dollar but many disagree with me. If you are wealthy and want a towe condo overlooking the river, or work in the heart of the city and want a small, cheaper place but in general regular homes are more desireable and have FAR fewer problems. Yes, one can now find a condo as low as in the $60K range that was originally almost $200. Yes, the rent would more than pay the payment but many have huge home owners association fees now. Many of the associations (HOA) are in deep trouble and even under lawsuit. This is from lack of revenue because of foreclosed units or designe problems with suits against the builders.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 14, 2012
Rentals are a good investment right now due to the fact that so many people have been foreclosed on. I think you would feel great about having that ability to do that - especially with the interest rates where they are right now! I dont know about condos vs. homes in portland but here the homes rent easier.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 14, 2012
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