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Portland Design Build Remodeling Blog

The Best Portland Neighborhoods to Invest in a Remodel

Posted by Lane Cooper on Aug 31, 2020 8:06:00 AM

Though Portland, Oregon, has gained a national reputation as a trendy, if quirky, place to live, and the home prices in some areas are climbing fast, you still can find neighborhoods with affordable houses that are worth remodeling.Buying a home with “good bones” in an established neighborhood with the intent to remodel or add on can be a financially wise thing to do. Some people like new-construction developments, as they are a clean slate, but the prices can be steep. It’s still possible to buy an older bungalow or Midcentury Modern ranch, do an extensive remodel, and still come out ahead on the cost.

At COOPER Design Build, we have extensive experience taking a family’s dreams, a home in a neighborhood that has developed its own character over the years, and putting the two together with delightful results. According to Zillow, the median home value in Portland is $424,200, but you can find prices that are significantly lower in up-and-coming neighborhoods- perfect for renovations. 


This area just southeast of the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers has a blue-collar past and is one of the city’s more ethnically diverse sections. In recent years, the area has seen significant development, with neighborhoods being revived and prices going up.

The neighborhood of St. Johns in north Portland originally was a separate town but long ago became part of the city. Even so, it’s described as a “small town in a big city” and has a post office, coffee shops, cafes and restaurants, movie theaters, grocery stores, and several parks. The median home value in St. Johns was $335,177 in January 2018, according to Zillow, meaning there are bargains to be found.


* Parkrose is a neighborhood east of Interstate 205 along the Columbia, just east of the airport. It has a mix of commercial buildings and homes and isn’t far from the city center. The median home value in Parkrose is $328,300 and rising fast, according to Zillow.

* Argay, just east of Parkrose, also has relatively affordable homes in established neighborhoods. The median home value is $353,300.

East Portland 

* Powellhurst-Gilbert, a diverse neighborhood with plentiful natural areas nearby, has a median home value of $301,200.

* Centennial, a popular and affordable neighborhood east of the city center, has a median home value of $294,500.

* Glenfair, north of Centennial, boasts a median home value of $294,700.

* Lents, farther south along I-205, is not only affordable; it’s trendy. The neighborhood made it on Thrillist.com’s list of “12 Neighborhoods Across American That Are About to Blow Up” a few years back. The median home value there is $293,740.


Homebuyers who are hoping to find a little gem of Portland’s history would be wise to check out Nob Hill. Also known as the Northwest District, this neighborhood is chock full of older homes waiting for someone with an eye for renovation. Although there’s a handful of new construction, people can also choose from a variety of 19th Century homes to modernize and remake in their own personal style.

Only a short jaunt from urban areas like the Pearl District, Nob Hill adds access to privacy with many of the conveniences of downtown. Home values depend on the size and overall condition. Some small units are practically a steal at around $200,000, while others exceed $1 million.


Slightly north of downtown Portland, the Pearl District is one of the most competitive. As such, the home values are high and getting higher. A bastion of urban renewal, this area of once-abandoned warehouses and railyards is undergoing a much-needed renaissance.

People love to live here because of the vibrant urban life. There are tons of restaurants, as well as boutique shopping and entertainment. Most homebuyers can expect to find a hip condominium or loft. There are a handful of single-family homes or townhomes, but they come at a premium. The average home price is about $575,000.


The south part of the metro area also features neighborhoods with home values well below Portland’s overall median. One of those areas is the suburb of Milwaukie, named after Milwaukee, Wis., and once a mill town and port that rivaled Portland. The median home value in Milwaukie is $353,400 and rising as the town undergoes a revival.

Milwaukie is the home of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods and Dark Horse Comics. 


A little southwest of downtown Portland, Goose Hollow is a great neighborhood with a memorable name. One of the oldest developed areas of Portland, Goose Hollow got its name from a tale about women fighting over who owned the geese who ran free in the area.

In the 21st Century, Goose Hollow is an up-and-coming place to live. With average home values around $400,000, it’s more affordable than other neighborhoods like Nob Hill or the Pearl District. In exchange for this investment, homebuyers get a balanced variety of home styles designed to meet household needs at almost any stage of life.


Since the potential of any given neighborhood depends on the year, homeowners and prospective homebuyers might wonder when is the best time to plan a remodel. This is especially important for people who are interested in buying older homes, since they often need significant renovations on a relatively regular basis. There are certain criteria that homeowners might want to watch for, as a way of knowing the time is right:

  • Many of the neighbors are engaging in significant renovations or home additions.
  • The existing homes do not meet the needs of modern buyers.
  • Surrounding neighborhoods are also undergoing a period of renewal.

When homebuyers spot one of these neighborhoods, they may need to act fast. Some regions take decades to completely recreate themselves in a new image. Others take only a few years. At the beginning, prices may be lower than the average. They will often be much higher by the end. By taking advantage of their observations and an attentive real estate professional, homebuyers may find themselves ahead of the game.

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Topics: Design-Build Portland, Home Remodeling, Planning a Remodel