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Portland, Oregon 2011 Building Permit Forecast: 7,513

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The new home construction market in Portland never went crazy during the housing boom, partly due to the difficulty of permitting projects. Permits only got as high as 17,000 in this metro region of 2.3 million, even as population grew by nearly 2% annually from 2005 to 2008.

Portland continues to operate as a demographic magnet, adding roughly 40,000 people a year, many of them Californians seeking a more affordable lifestyle. Household formations are expected to rise another 2% this year, the same rate as in the last six years. The city keeps showing up on important lists–one of the best places to have a baby, the cleanest city, the smartest city, and the fifth greenest city.

Strong population growth, coupled with a lid on construction, has helped prop up median home prices, which have fallen only 19% since the housing boom. They got as high as $295,000 and had fallen only to $238,000 last year. Moody’s expects a modest, 3.5% decline this year.

Portland’s employment growth, like its household growth, is above average at 2%.Median income, $56,000 in 2010, will also rise by 2.3% this year, making up for last year’s losses. Portland was the 26th largest housing market last year.

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