Real Estate In Oregon

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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You're looking at real estate in Oregon with an eye to investment? It's a great choice and a beautiful place to call home, especially if the idea of 35 people per square mile is more attractive to you than, say, 571 (Maryland) or 296 (Florida) or 277 (Ohio). No matter where amidst the expanse of windswept Pacific coast, snow-capped mountains, or gentle river valley you settle, you'll never regret buying real estate in Oregon.

Real Estate in Oregon: The Discovery

First seen by European eyes when Spanish explorer Bartolome Ferrello sailed along the Oregon and Washington coastlines in 1543, the northwest was not visited again by explorers for more than 200 years. In the last quarter of the 18th century, they made up for lost time. In 1775 England's Captain James Cook explored the coast. In 1787 the city of Boston sent two ships to the Oregon Territory. In 1792 one of them, Captain James Gray, surveyed the length of the Columbia River, naming it for his ship.

From the roughly hewn Pacific shoreline to the winding Snake River and Hells Canyon along the Idaho border, the 95,775 square miles of real estate in Oregon are undeniably impressive. By the time Lewis and Clark arrived in October of 1805, they could--as we cannot--see through the clear water of the Columbia River to the salmon along its bottom. "A mountain which we suppose to be Mt. Hood," William Clark wrote, "is ... about 47 miles distant ... covered with snow."

Word of the natural beauty and dramatic scenery of the region spread East quickly. In 1811 John Jacob Astor and his Pacific Fur Company established a trading post on the Oregon coast. By 1846 settlers were arriving in the thousands along the famous if often arduous Oregon Trail. Most by far settled in the Willamette Valley.

Real Estate in Oregon: The Valley

Approximately 60 miles inland from the Pacific coast, this lush stretch of agricultural heaven runs south to north. It is bisected by the Willamette River, whose 188 miles flow due north. To the west is the Coastal Range and to the east are the Cascades. The majority of residential real estate in Oregon--the state population at the 2000 census numbered not quite 3.5 million (up 20 percent from 1990)--is still here.

At the north end of the valley, near the Washington border, is Portland, Oregon's largest city (population 540,000). Salem, the state capital (population 140,000), lies not quite 50 miles due south. Below it are Corvallis (population 50,000), 30 miles away, and Eugene (population 142,000), 20 miles south of Corvallis. About 60 miles to the west is the rugged but spectacular Pacific coastline. One of Oregon's particular claims to fame is the state's restrictions on development along its coast.

Real Estate in Oregon: The Numbers

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, there were some 1,485,582 residential housing units in Oregon in 2002. Home ownership of real estate in Oregon stood at 64.3 percent, just under the national average. The majority were (and are) single-family homes. Only 23 percent were apartments or condominiums.

The last census bureau figures on business and retail sales are from 1997. Those for Oregon are healthy. Retail sales per capita stood at some $10,300, higher than the national average ($9,200). The same is true of female-owned companies, which totaled 27.6 percent to the national 26 percent. Minority-owned firms, however, at 6.2 percent fell well below the national average of 14 percent.

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