PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Two moving companies say Oregon remains one of the most popular destinations for relocating in the country.

But United Van Lines ranks the state second behind Vermont, while Atlas Van Lines says Oregon is No. 8 and puts Idaho in the top spot.

The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Portland, computed by three rental tracking companies, is $1,334.

Abodo says that makes Portland the 17th-most expensive rental market in the country, while Zumper ranks it No. 20, and Apartment List puts the city in 29th place.

The Zillow real estate tracking company says the median home sales price in Portland was $393,458 in November, the most recent month for which figures are available. But the Regional Multiple Listing Service put it at $377,000 then.

Such contradictory information is typical from private companies involved in the real estate industry and related fields, like moving. They tend to increase in January, when many of the companies issue special year-end reports covering the previous 12 months.

But that does not mean the news releases — which link to larger reports with more details — are not valuable. They tend to track similar trends, which are almost always confirmed by the official figures. And the trends in the most recent releases are significant.

First, Oregon is still attracting a lot of new residents. The U.S. Census Bureau said Oregon was the ninth-fastest growing state in 2017, with most of the growth coming from people moving here from somewhere else.

The Population Research Center at Portland State University said the state added approximately 65,000 people in 2017. Historically, more than half of the people moving to Oregon have settled in the Portland metropolitan area, which has been experiencing near-record growth since the end of the Great Recession.

Although the growth has contributed to the affordable housing crisis, the rental and real estate companies all agree that double-digit annual rent increases of recent years have slowed dramatically — and some say rents are even falling.

For example, Apartment List says that after rising through August 2016, rents in Portland dropped the rest of the year and are now down 1.7 percent from last January, including a 1.0 percent drop last month. Abodo also says the rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Portland dropped 0.95 percent last month.

Abodo senior communication manager Sam Radbil says rents may continue to decline through 2018, because so many new apartments are coming online in Portland.

“New developments that were just built are now coming available and accepting new residents. Pretty much a standard function of supply and demand,” Radbi says.

Sifting through data

The information in the news releases and reports are examples of how companies are trying to use the tremendous amount of data they are now collecting on a regular basis. Amazon, Facebook and Google are well-known for their relentless drive to collect, analyze and use data on their customers, but many other smaller businesses are doing much the same thing.

With the news releases, the moving, rental and real estate companies are hoping to generate coverage by sharing some of their data. The details differ slightly between similar news releases because each company relies on different sources of information. The two moving companies survey their customers. The rental companies use their own figures. The real estate tracking companies receive sales figures from different sources.

But some of the companies are trying to be more accurate. For example, Apartment List made a concerted effort last year to incorporate more sources of information in their reports, much like the well-respected Case-Shiller real estate tracking methodology.

“Data from private listing sites, including our own, tends to skew toward luxury apartments, introducing sample bias,” says Apartment List housing economist Chris Salviati. “In order to address these limitations and provide the most accurate rent estimates available, we now start with reliable median rent statistics from the Census Bureau, then extrapolate forward based on our own rental listing data, using a same-unit analysis similar to Case-Shiller’s approach, which compares only units that are available across both time periods to provide an accurate picture of rent growth in cities across the country.”

Although the two moving companies still only rely on their customers for information, United Van Lines released details of their customer surveys for each state.

Of moves to Oregon, the highest-ranking Western state, a new job or company transfer (49 percent) and proximity to family (24 percent) led the reasons for most inbound moves, the company said in its news release.

The Portland Tribune is a KOIN media partner.