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Want to buy a house in Portland? Get ready to fight for it

PORTLAND, Ore. -- How much extra are you willing to pay to buy a house? Real estate agents are seeing buyers offering $100,000 over the asking price for house in hot neighborhoods in Portland.

Erin Rothrock, with the Hasson Company, said she recently worked on a house in the Alameda neighborhood that received six bids.

"Five of the six were a hundred thousand-plus over full price," said Rothrock.

Some buyers are surprised at the higher home prices.

KATU Chief Engineer Tim Ondracek just moved to Portland from Reno, Nevada.

"Got up here and got a little sticker shock. It was a lot higher," said Ondracek."

He said he looked at 50 homes and bid on three, but lost them to other buyers who were willing to pay more, even for properties in the Gresham and Milwaukie areas, which traditionally have not been real estate hot spots.

"Heartbreak," said Ondracek. "When you see someone else beat you, outbid you by several thousand dollars, what are you supposed to do?"

Real estate agent Susan Reinhart is showing a 100-year-old house in Irvington, a place many buyers want to live.

"They do whatever they can to buy in a neighborhood like this," said Reinhart.

The house sold for $320,000 in 2004, city records show. Now, the asking price is $700,000.

"I think the surprise for me is, there is more and more inventory, so you would think the frenzy would slow down, but the inventory is being sucked up as fast as it comes on the market," said Rothrock.

Agents said most of their buyers are from out of town, from California to the East Coast to Asia.

Reinhart said it is the tech industry and livability that are bringing out-of-state buyers in.

Mortgage home loan officer Lane Albert looked at the $700,000 home shown by Reinhart. She said she is looking for a house for her son, who is moving up from San Francisco to take a job offer in Portland.

"They could buy this house and have a payment that's about $1,000 less than what they're paying for rent there, so it seems more affordable," Albert said.

Agents said some buyers are writing personal letters to owners, in hopes of making a connection and convincing them to sell to them.

So, is it a bad time to buy? Not according to Rothrock.

"I'm not discouraged by the market," said Rothrock. "I think you have to be willing to write more than one offer. And maybe not get the first house."

Some steps you can take to increase your chances of getting the house you want:

---Get pre-approved for your loan or financing arrangements.

---Check out the property right away, as soon as it is listed, rather than waiting for the weekend or an open house.

---Be prepared to make an offer quickly.

---Consider writing a personal letter to the owner explaining why you believe you would be the best fit for the house.

You can watch much more on Portland's housing prices when we tackle the topic in-depth on "Your Voice, Your Vote" this Sunday, May 10 at 9 a.m.

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