Whether you’re about to buy your first home, dream home, or vacation home, the pursuing this major milestone can feel daunting. This page will break down what you need to know, step-by-step, on finessing the financing to get a mortgage in Oregon.

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Check Mortgage Rates in Oregon

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Mortgage rates vary, but there’s a science to their fluctuations. Big cities in Oregon, like Portland, are becoming more popular by the day. The number of Portland households increased by more than 29,000 just between 2000 and 2013, which slowly drives up the cost of homes. Between 2011 and 2014, the median sales price of a home in Portland rose by 32 percent, a significant increase in home price by $75,000 in those three years alone. In mid- 2016, the average home sale price in the Portland area reached $320,500. Statewide, the median cost of a home in Oregon is around $274,000 and rising. The two most important factors for securing a mortgage are your credit score and the down payment you can afford to make.

2

First-Timer? Get Homebuying Help in Oregon

Conventional home loans in Oregon are available from several kinds of lenders: thrift institutions (savings bank and savings loan companies), commercial banks, mortgage companies and credit unions. Oregonians can also get a mortgage through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA); the down payment usually is only 3.5 percent and the FHA is known to make home loans to those with lower credit scores. While you probably won’t get the most competitive interest rate through the FHA, you’ll have an easier time qualifying for the loan.

The USDA also has a little-known program for rural parts of states like Oregon called the Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program. The program is designed to help low- and moderate-income households own “adequate, modest, decent, safe and sanitary dwellings as their primary residence in eligible rural areas.” And if you’re a military veteran, you may qualify for a VA loan. Conventional mortgage loans typically follow guidelines set by the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac, FHA, VA and USDA each have their own rules, so be sure to read the terms carefully.

Mortgage brokers can help you find any one of these lenders by seeking bids from multiple sources at once if you’re not sure where to start. Be sure you understand who the lending officer works for, as the lines can sometimes blur between brokers and lenders Brokers receive compensation for the loan they deliver to you in the form of “points” or fees added on to your closing costs.

If you’re looking for assistance as a first time buyer, Portland has several programs you may want to consider. The Portland Housing Center offers grants, deferred loan programs and savings match programs, as well as the Homebuyer Grant Fund, which adds 25 percent to the purchase price, with the extra amount applied to renovations or repairs of the house. There’s also the Community Land Costs program that cuts the price of land out of the purchase price and adjusts it over time. For a more thorough explanation of the homebuying process, visit our First Time-Buyers Guide.

Financial Assistance in Oregon for First-Time Buyers

Everything you need to know about closing costs, down payment assistance and other types of financial help in the Beaver State can be found here. Additionally, you may take classes to qualify for assistance programs online through the HomeSmart Oregon website.

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What Drives Home Affordability in Oregon?

Homeownership is a hot topic in Oregon. Everyone wants to move to the state with its temperate climate and hip cities. In fact, Portland now has a homeownership rate of 53 percent of residents, significantly below the national rate of 62.9 percent. Many factors are driving this rise, including local zoning and permitting laws and urban planning priorities that dictate land use. The most immediate cause of rising home costs, is low supply and high demand as a steady influx of new residents move to Oregon. However, as home prices climb, home values also rise, which boosts the threshold for getting the requisite 20 percent down payment and buying a first home.


How Oregon Mortgage Rates and Home Prices Affect Monthly Payments

Metro Area Estimated Monthly Mortgage Payment* Q1 2016 (Change from Previous Year) 2015 Median Home Price 2014 2013
Eugene-Springfield $1,057 $225,200 (+6.60%) $222,200 $210,400 $200,900
Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton $1,533 $326,700 (+12.90%) $312,100 $286,000 $265,500
Salem $1,041 $221,800 (+14.40%) $210,300 $187,700 $168,500

Source: National Association of Realtors Q1 2016 Metropolitan Median Area Prices and Affordability report.
*Estimated Monthly Mortgage Payment is based on median home prices for the metro area in Q1 2016 and a 30-year fixed mortgage with today’s rates.

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Determine How Much You Can Borrow in Oregon

Conventional loan limits are determined by the county where the home is located, and are set using the highest median home price within the metropolitan area. FHA limits vary from one county to the next. They are based on the Home Price Index (HPI) and are updated every year. Use the tool below to search for both FHA and conventional loan limits by county in Oregon.

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5

Buying a Home in Oregon: Experts Weigh In

Sherry Vance

Sherry Vanceis a senior mortgage banker at Pacific Residential Mortgage in Clackamas, Oregon.

Kym Mayea

Kym Mayea is a loan officer at Priority Home Lending in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

What do first-time home buyers need to know about buying a home in Oregon?

Vance

I would look up reviews on the Internet in regards to the bank/banker you are using.  Unbiased reviews give you a good prospective on their experience and how they help others.

Mayea

First time home buyers should [have] a preapproval in Oregon. (This) is extremely important because we are seeing multiple offers on properties. It’s best to know your credit score, to evaluate your assets and liabilities, and to organize documents.

How has the housing market changed within the last few years? 

Vance

Rates have stayed consistent and attractively low; our biggest challenge is the appraisal turn times.

Mayea

We know that property values have gone back to what they were prior to the housing crisis. We also know that interest rates are historically very low and have remained attractive for the last several years which creates a very competitive market.   

How can someone with little to no equity refinance?

Vance

If you are not taking cash out, you don’t need very much equity. If you have none it will be a challenge to refinance.

Mayea

We have several programs to which homeowners would benefit even with little to no equity. The good news is many homeowners don’t realize they do indeed have equity in their homes, and this is why it is important to take a closer look with your lender.

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Don’t Forget Oregon’s Closing Costs

You’ll find that Oregon’s closing costs are comparable to other states in the Pacific Northwest within a couple of hundred dollars. You’ll be looking at approximately $2,000 or less broken down into the lender’s origination fee, and other third party fees. Don’t forget about other expenses, including courier, inspections, flood certifications, credit reports, appraisal and surveying. Each of those costs run between $100 and $500, but vary from city to city and county to county, depending upon the recording fees. For the complete guide to closing costs, what to expect, and what they consist of, see our guide on Common Closing Costs.

Average Closing Costs in the Beaver State

Average Origination
Fees
$1,080
Average Third-Party
Fees
$785
Average Total Closing
Costs
$1,865

Source: Bankrate’s 2015 survey of closing costs.

Refinancing Your Mortgage in Oregon

Homeowners refinance for a number of reasons: to lower monthly payments, to get a better interest rate, or to take out additional funds for home improvement. Although interest rates have risen slightly, they are still at historic lows in Oregon, and this is a very good time to refinance if you’re in the position to do so.

In the case of refinancing due to financial hardship, consider the Making Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP Phase II), a government-backed mortgage program that aims to help home owners stay in their homes by making monthly mortgage payments more affordable. Qualified borrowers with existing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans can refinance their homes, even when they owe more than the value of the home, have an adjustable rate mortgage, have been rejected for a refinance loan or loan modification in the past, or are struggling to make payments due to financial hardship.

You’ll need to show that you benefit from one of the following:

  • A lower monthly mortgage principal and interest payment;
  • A lower interest rate;
  • A shorter amortization term (a loan for fewer years); or
  • A more stable mortgage product; for example, movement from an ARM to a fixed-rate mortgage.

Check out our guide on refinancing for more information.

Other Oregon Mortgage Resources

Here are other useful resources on your path to homeownership:

African American Alliance for Homeownership

This agency specifically helps those of African American heritage purchase homes.

Community Housing Resource Center

This organization promotes financial self-sufficiency through education and counseling.

Home Smart Oregon

Down payment assistance.

Oregon Real Estate Agency

This agency regulates real estate and escrow services, but is also a wealth of knowledge on stages of the mortgage lending process.

Oregon Association of Realtors

A wealth of information about all aspects of the home buying process from realtors in the know.

Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative

To help underwater homeowners refinance their mortgages.

Oregon Department of Housing and Human Services

A hub of resources for assistance programs and connections to other agencies.

Portland Housing Center

Provides education and workshops on all aspects of the home buying process

Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors

This organization hosts HOWNW.com which contains a wealth of helpful information for homebuyers.

Neighbor Impact

An organization to help central Oregonians build and maintain home assets.