PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Hundreds of people gathered Friday for the 2019 Housing Forecast at the Oregon Convention Center to find out what the near future holds for Portland’s housing market.

Economists shared some good news — and some bad news.

The good news? The regional economy is strong, jobs are up and Portland’s population is growing twice as fast as the country as a whole. But the bad news is we aren’t building houses fast enough.

“And if we’re not able to build enough housing to accommodate that population growth, it means prices go through the roof,” economist Josh Lehner told KOIN 6 News.

It’s no surprise that economists are forecasting housing affordability issues into Portland’s future.

“What that means for buyers is that there should be more inventory, but prices are going to continue to be a pain,” Dr. Robert Dietz, the chief economist with Home Builders Association, said.

According to economists, current housing prices are unsustainable over the long run. Prices could drive young working people away — decreasing Portland’s economic base.

Construction costs are also rising, from lumber to labor. One of the issues is that it’s hard to find construction workers. Also, costs to build are at an all-time high, which is slowing down the housing market in the Portland area.

On Friday, hundreds of people in the Home Builders Association met to talk about ways to reduce the cost of construction. 

Economists believe good government policies can help reduce supply costs for builders. They encourage builders to construct all types of homes. For example, they see a bright future for the townhouse market because they allow for more affordability and walkability.

“That kind of construction is going to take off for the next five years,” Dr. Dietz said.

Overall, if the city can build more houses, prices will simmer down — but generally speaking, economists expect to see a slowing housing market in Portland over the next few years.