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Oregon, a beautiful Pacific Northwest state, is a land of dizzying contrasts. The state’s geographic terrain ranges from the 1,943-foot-deep Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States, to the spiraling 11,245-foot heights of Mount Hood in the Cascades, and back down again into Hell’s Canyon, the 5,500-foot deep river gorge, the deepest in the country. The eastern portion of the state is mostly an arid high desert full of mountains, buttes, and plains, while the western half of the state is home to dense forests, stunning waterfalls, fertile lowlands, and the high peaks of the Cascade and Klamath mountain ranges.
The majority of Oregon’s major cities fall in the western half of the state, with the most populous city being Portland, which has a population of over half a million people. The next three cities, Salem, Eugene, and Gresham (a suburb of Portland) trail far behind, with populations barely nearing 200,000.
The state’s natural landscapes are a major draw, with most of the top attractions being outdoor adventures and sights. Crater Lake near Medford has some of the best hiking trails in the state, while Mount Hood, roughly four hours to the north, also offers a variety of hiking and backpacking opportunities in addition to snowboarding and skiing options available in the snowy months. The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, a short drive outside of Portland, offers amazing views on their hiking and biking trails, in addition to gorgeous waterfalls like Multnomah Falls.
Along the coastline of Oregon, beautiful beaches and quaint tourist-worthy beach towns dot the shoreline. Astoria, in Oregon’s northwest corner and the oldest city in the state, is particularly renowned for its Victorian-style charm and historical significance. To the south in Newport, the Oregon Aquarium and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse are both popular attractions.
For those interested in exploring the more metropolitan areas, Portland is a must-see. In addition to being a thriving and vibrant modern city, Portland is renowned as a “foodie paradise,” with a focus on local produce. Its arts scene is also particularly celebrated, and the Portland Museum of Art, as well as the Portland Japanese Gardens, are both carefully curated and offer wonderfully different forms of art.
As expected from such a naturally diverse state, Oregon’s economy is driven by agriculture, fishing and forestry, and tourism. The state produces a large number of the United States’ berries, including loganberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries. Grapes are a popular crop as well, and Oregon has the third most wineries in the US, trailing only behind its southern and northern neighbors, California and Washington. Salmon and shellfish as well as rockfish, ocean perch, flounder, and tuna are all common products out of Oregon. For years, Oregon’s lumber industry represented a large portion of the state’s economy, and even though it still accounts for much of the lumber produced in the United States, the times are changing and the slowing lumber sector has led to some unemployment and economic hardship in the more rural portions of the state.
However, it isn’t all plants and animals. Oregon is home to thriving manufacturing and mining industries as well. Amazon and Facebook both have data centers in the state and the largest employer in Oregon is Nike, which is headquartered out of Beaverton to the west of Portland.
The population of Oregon didn’t really start to take off until the late 1800s, shortly after the Civil War. Prior to that, Oregon was mostly made up of pioneers, eager to strike out on their own, far away from eastern society. However, once the state began to grow, architectural wonders were not far behind. More modern inventions like the telegraph made communication across the United States easier, and as a result, the spread of architectural ideas in Oregon largely mimicked what was popular elsewhere in the country.
A few notable examples include the Calvary Presbyterian Church, or The Old Church, in Portland. This was constructed in 1882 by Warren H. Williams in the Gothic Revival style, featuring a high, dramatically pointed roof. However, what makes the Old Church stand out is its unique Carpenter Gothic style. This means that instead of the traditional stonework, wood was used to construct most of the church and then painted gray to mimic stones.
Like most US states, Oregon boasts a stunning historical mansion. The Pittock Mansion, constructed in 1914 to be the private home of Henry Pittock and his family, is a beautiful example of French Renaissance style with steep, sloping roofs and pointed turret-like structures. The massive forty-six-acre estate is open to the public for tours.
For a more updated flavor, downtown Portland features a gorgeous skyscraper constructed in 1981 in the modernist style. The US Bancorp Tower, built to be the headquarters for U.S. Bank, is also known as Big Pink because of its liberal use of pink Spanish granite and pink-tinted plate glass on the exterior. The intensity of the building’s pinkness changes in different levels of sunlight, and this eye-catching forty-two-story structure is still a functioning office building.
Homes in Oregon largely follow trends that can be identified elsewhere in the country. If you’re looking for a particular style, you’re likely to find it in the Oregon housing market. Four styles in particular are popular in the region: the Craftsman, the Portland Bungalow, the mid-century ranch, and the Foursquare or Old Portland style.
Craftsman styles are often two stories with high ceilings, large porches, and lots of built-ins. Today’s homeowners might find the floor plans a little more closed than they would like, but the high ceilings and well-placed windows typical of Craftsman houses give the illusion of more space. The Portland Bungalow is similar to the Craftsman but is often smaller and more affordable, usually only one and a half stories, featuring porches covered by attractive roof extensions. Mid-century ranches were popular from the 1950s to the 1970s and are typically single or split-level homes with an attached garage and a low-pitched roof. Finally, the Foursquare or Old Portland style features a square, boxy exterior with generous, full-width front porches. Other styles like Tudor revival and Cape Cod are also popular throughout the state.
Knowing that most popular home styles in Oregon feature a porch, it should come as no surprise then that other outdoor features are some of the most popular in the state’s housing market. According to Realm’s data analysis, fences top the list, with 17,017 mentions in recent local listings, while patios come in second with 14,619 mentions, and decks round out the top three most popular features, with 14,284 mentions. Wood flooring was also popular and was mentioned in 10,077 listings, while HVAC updates or repairs came in fifth, with 10,521 mentions in recent listings.
Since Realm’s analysis found that most homes in Oregon were built in 1978, they are likely still in decent shape, though the square footage might be a little less than a modern homeowner would like. If you find a home that would benefit from an addition, Realm’s free-to-use dashboard can provide an accurate project cost estimate and can show you how much value the extra square footage would add to the property.
Aside from cosmetic updates 1970s homes might need, like a new kitchen or larger bathroom, there are a few larger issues homeowners should know about. The plumbing and piping material in most 1970s homes was galvanized steel. If the plumbing hasn’t been updated, the pipes might be losing their effectiveness thanks to rust. Rusty pipes can leave homeowners vulnerable to leaks and breaks, which can cause even worse damage to the home’s structure. Potential homeowners can get a sense of what they’re in for — and whether they may need new pipes — by having the plumbing inspected prior to purchase.
Although the electrical system in a 1970s home is not too different from today’s, there is the issue of ground fault circuit interrupters. These are meant to protect the home from electrical shocks, and homes in the 1970s did not have these installed. It’s possible the home has already been updated, but it’s worth finding out.
Finally, a few more things to look out for during an inspection. The roofing might need to be replaced since roofs often need a fix about every twenty years. If your potential home last had roof work done in the 1990s, it’s past time for some maintenance. Secondly, lead and asbestos may or may not be present in the house. These were banned for home construction use in 1977, but if you’re planning on renovating yourself, you should make sure these aren’t present in the home since disturbing asbestos can be hazardous to health. Lastly, there may be some soil erosion and foundational issues due to the age of the property. Look for any diagonal or stair step cracks in the foundation.
When it comes to the risk of property damage from natural disasters, most homes in Oregon are relatively safe from naturally occurring floods and wildfires. Realm’s data found that 98% of Oregon homes are not in a flood zone and 99.96% of homes in the state are outside of a designated perimeter for a wildfire that has occurred in the last five years. Of course, one can never predict the future, but it’s always helpful to have the percentages in your favor.
Are house prices dropping in Oregon?
Not exactly. Despite soaring prices across the country, it would appear that things are slightly slowing down in Oregon’s housing market. However, prices are still rising, just not at the meteoric pace shown by the rest of the nation. For some context, as of September 2021, the median price of a home in Portland was $525,777 which is up 8.4% from the previous year. Furthermore, homes are only spending an average of eleven days on the market, which is 37.5% longer than in 2020. To be sure, pricing in smaller and more rural areas of Oregon will remain more affordable, but it is clear that prices are continuing to rise, regardless of the region of the state.
What is the cost of a house in Oregon?
The median price of a home in Oregon as of 2021 is $393,710. Real estate in Portland remains much higher than this, while smaller cities like Salem and Eugene more closely match this number.
Is Portland expensive to live in?
Generally speaking, yes. The cost of living is 17.7 % higher than the national average, while wages are 13% higher than the rest of the nation. So while housing in Portland might eat up a good portion of your budget, it’s important to remember the potential value there is to be gained by owning a home in a popular city.
We currently cover most standalone, single-family homes