Portland leads the way — again

Elliot Njus The Oregonian/OregonLive

Portland-area home prices, for the 11th-straight month, grew at a faster rate in August than any other major metro area included in an influential index.

Home values in Portland rose 11.7 percent compared to a year earlier, according to the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller home price index, released Tuesday. The gains reflect the region’s stubbornly competitive housing market, which has driven seemingly relentless home-increases in recent years.

While home-price appreciation has cooled across much the country, hovering at a 5.1 percent year-over-year increase in August, the Northwest remains an exception. Out of 20 cities included in the index, only Portland and Seattle saw double-digit increases. Seattle saw home prices climb 11.4 percent year-over-year.

David Blitzer, chairman of S&P’s index committee, said the increases reflect broader economic gains, and that other data point to a “reasonably healthy housing market” at a national level. The nation as a whole is just approaching a point where it will have made up ground lost in the housing crash.

Prices in Portland, however, exceed their 2007 housing-bubble peak by nearly 12 percent.

Homeowners’ gain has created a challenging climate for others in the housing market. Rents have skyrocketed. Those seeking housing-cost stability through homeownership have found little available in a competitive market. Meanwhile, future interest-rate hikes could further undercut their buying power.

The Case-Shiller index measures relative changes in home prices using repeated sales of the same homes. It uses a three-month rolling average.

The median Portland-area home sold for $350,300 in September, an increase of 15 percent from a year earlier. enjus@oregonian.com