As real-estate prices in the Portland region climb, and some out-of-state cash buyers put the squeeze on locals, some Oregonians apparently have had enough, and are taking it out on a familiar foe…Californians.
Last week, real-estate agents in Portland found many “For Sale” signs on homes slapped with “no Californians” stickers, a silhouette of the Golden State in black with a red circle and slash through it, according to the Oregonian newspaper of Portland.
“A lot of these homes are going into bidding wars,” Quinn Irvine, a real-estate agent, told the paper. He said the issue stems in large part from a 10-year low in the number of homes for sale in the region, which has led to a lot of people getting outbid. He told the paper that he thinks upset Oregonians are putting anti-California stickers on signs of agents who have properties that have sold over ask price.
Oregon’s more laid-back lifestyle is appealing to many Californians seeking an escape from long commutes and cramped San Francisco apartments. Chris Hawkins, a 47 year-old from Marin County, Calif., who owns a commercial printing company in San Francisco, sold his apartment there and recently moved to Eugene, Ore., with his wife, an interior designer, and their two kids in March. He paid $550,000 cash last October for his 5,000 square-foot home, something that would have cost him three times as much in California. “That would have been our down payment on a Bay Area house,” he said. “And I would have still had to pay a $1 million mortgage.”
In Portland, home values have soared from a median value of $225,000 in 2012 to $330,000 today, rising nearly 11% in the past year, and they’re expected to climb another 6% in the year ahead, according to Zillow.com. That compares to a median home price in San Francisco of more than $1 million.
But even with the arrival of Californians like the Hawkins family, the image of rich San Francisco Internet millionaires dropping cash on Portland condos and cabins about an hour’s drive from the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area isn’t very prevalent.
Cash sales in the Portland area in May accounted for about one out of every five sales, according to the analytics company CoreLogic. Statewide, Oregon was little different than California with both states showing cash sales in April 2015 at 26% each, below the national average.
But as word of the “No Californians” stickers went viral, readers of both the Oregonian and San Francisco Chronicle soon dished it out on the Internet. “Californians are going to turn Portland in to San Francisco 2.0,” wrote one anonymous Oregonian reader. San Francisco residents were just as tart. “They don’t have to worry about me moving to Oregon,” one Bay Area resident wrote. “There’s no San Francisco there. Besides, plaid flannel makes me look fat.”
Hawkins says he isn’t surprised by the anti-California sentiment in Portland, but he hasn’t encountered any in Eugene since he’s arrived. “I was warned to change my California plates to Oregon ones on my car, but I had them on my car for more than a month and nothing happened,” he said.
Still, are the Prius-driving, latte-sipping Californians really driving the microbrew-drinking Oregonians from their homes, or is it just another chapter in the long-running “Californication” feud that took hold in the 1960s?
(Stewart Holbrook, a columnist for the Oregonian newspaper, is said to have started the trend of discouraging people from other states moving to Oregon through his fictitious and satirical James G. Blaine Society and its unofficial “Visit-Oregon-But-Don’t-Stay” motto.)
“Oregon has a long tradition of blaming Californians for gentrification,” says 43-year-old Ben Quady, a resident of Eugene, who moved to Oregon from California 25 years ago and is now a stay-at-home dad after retiring from the restaurant business while his wife runs a bakery in town.
“We are in the middle of another such moment right now,” he said.