A Well-Placed Bet

Kristine Hayes

THREE YEARS AGO, I bought a home a few weeks before getting married. The purchase wasn’t so much an investment as a necessity: My new husband and I owned four dogs between us, and we knew we’d have a difficult time finding a rental that would allow that many pets.

I’d lived in the Portland, Oregon, metro area for nearly 30 years and had owned two other homes. I knew which neighborhoods to avoid, as well as which ones were coveted. I ultimately settled on a small, slightly outdated home located in a desirable suburb. My husband and I knew we’d only be living in the house for a few years before selling and moving to Arizona, so I was reluctant to spend too much on a transitional property.

At the time, mortgage rates were rising at a moderate pace and property values seemed to have stagnated. My plan: Do a few cosmetic updates to the house and hope housing prices would increase enough so that, when we sold, I’d recoup my down payment and closing costs.

Instead, housing prices have soared to heights I never would have predicted. In our neighborhood, homes of similar size and quality are regularly selling for $100,000 more than what I paid in 2018. Bidding wars frequently break out and many houses sell for tens of thousands of dollars over asking price.

And although we’re still a ways off from listing the house for sale, I’ve even more reason to be pleased with my (unintentionally good) market timing: Trader Joe’s recently announced it’ll be opening a new store just a few blocks from where we live. That, I’m guessing, will drive up prices even more.

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