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Congestion, homelness promping some buyers to look outside of Multnomah County, realtor says

Home prices are continuing to skyrocket in the Portland metropolitan area, fueled by a shortage of houses on the markets, according to area realtors.

The most recent Regional Multiple Listing Service Reports says the median home price in metro area jumped from $350,000 in April 2016 to $385,000 last month. Only Multnomah County saw an increase in listings, says Michelle Maida, Office Leader at John L. Scott Portland.

"I see a very new trend here where people are selling their houses and buying outside of Portland and Multnomah County. The trend is to get out of the city and buy a home with an acre or more. My take is that people are losing faith in the actions of the city, mayor and commissioners to take care of the huge homeless population as well as the traffic situation," says Maida.

As Maida sees it, the wave of apartment construction in Portland is actually causing some potential home buyers to look outside the city limits, too.

"Close-in neighborhoods are crowded such is the case with Sellwood, one of our most popular. In Sellwood there are many apartment buildings, 500-plus units, with no parking structures whatsoever. The congestion is just unbelievable," says Maida.

Despite the challenges, some people are moving into Portland, including those buying the homes of people in the city who have retired and are looking for a quietier lifestyle.

Denis Theriault, communications coordinator for the Portland-Multnomah County agencies working to reduce homelessness, says officials are working harder and more effectively on the problems than ever before.

"Since last year, the city of Portland and Multnomah County have invested more than ever to address homelessness, some $50 million combined. In the last budget year, that meant we were able to help more people than ever, more than 25,000, either avoid homelessness, regain housing or escape the streets in an emergency shelter. More than 4,600 people were helped into housing. And more than 6,600 people spent time in shelter, helped by our community's work to double the number of publicly funded year-round shelter beds," says Theriault, spokesman for A Home for Everyone and the Joint Office of Homeless Services.

"But homelessness isn't static. We're helping more people than ever. But it's hard to keep pace with an expensive housing market and lagging economy for low-income workers that are pushing people onto the streets faster than we can help them," Theriault adds.

Although the inventory of homes for sale normally increases in the entire area in April, John L. Scott Chairman and CEO Lennox Scott says the tight market has created a new normal.

"There are several factors as to why new listings are down. First, in a 'normal' yearly real estate cycle we see more listings come on the market in April because it usually takes a while for homes to sell and if homeowners wanted to sell a home and move during the summer they would need that three month period in order to close by June. Now, because of our extremely quick market, sellers know they have the power to wait and not disrupt their families until the 11th hour," says Scott.

According to Scott's office, homes under $500,000 are especially in demand now and are usually selling in 30 days or less.

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