Can Portland build its way out of a housing crunch?

It’s a common complaint about Portland’s painful housing crunch: Why are builders catering mostly to high-end buyers?

New homes, on average, command higher prices than 80 percent of the homes on the market, said Skylar Olsen, an economist with the real estate website Zillow. “Construction firms … tend to go for the luxury,” she said. “That’s how they’re going to get a better bang for their buck.”

So where does that leave those who are scouring the ads for their first home in a region where housing stocks have been drained by years of population growth and underbuilding?

New homes, already sold for a premium, don’t appreciate as quickly as existing homes, and over time the rest of the market catches up. Economists call the process “filtering,” and it explains how a home can change price tiers.

It usually takes about 30 years for a home to complete the filtering cycle and revert to

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