1. Biggest one-year price growth

Given its hefty appreciation from 2006 to 2007—housing prices jumped 34 percent (20 percent more than the city average)—Sylvan Highlands might have appeared a haven for flippers. But any flipper looking to elbow in on the action in this hilly Southwest community just off Highway 26 must compete with those who love the neighborhood’s proximity to family-friendly destinations (the Oregon Zoo, the West Hills Racquet and Fitness Club, and Forest Park are all within walking distance) and arboretum feel (there’s nary a paved sidewalk nor a straight street in the heavily wooded ’hood). “The community is fiercely proud of how rustic the area has remained,” says Windermere agent Laurie Whittemore. Which means residents are ready to defend their patch of Doug Fir-shrouded paradise from the flippers looking to cash in quick. —SW

Where mountains meet metropolis lies the 900-acre flurry of activity that is the Northwest District.

2. Most homes for sale over $500,000

Where the mountains meet metropolis lies the 900-acre flurry of activity that is the Northwest District. Amid upscale boutiques like Lush (where you can buy $40 bars of soap) and hip sipping spots like St Honoré Boulangerie (where you can pair a cup of French roast with French apple turnovers), you might encounter renegade types pedaling 10-foot-tall bikes, 8-year-olds hawking lemonade in front of gingerbread-esque Victorians, and well-heeled residents walking bichons frises like leashed accessories. But farther west, the bustle recedes as the crammed city streets slide into tree-lined avenues that amble westward toward 5,156-acre Forest Park. “If there’s one word to describe Northwest Portland, it’s ‘diverse,’” says longtime resident and Windermere real estate agent Dan Volkmer. “Expensive” might be another. Indeed, in 2007, this district boasted more homes priced over $500,000 than anywhere else in Portland. But with easy access to the streetcar, MAX and five bus routes, Northwest residents can save some cash at least in one department: gas. —Brian Barker

3. Best five-year price growth


If there’s one reason the 632 full-time residents of this 26,000-acre island have seen their home values jump 129 percent since 2002, it’s this: Everyone wants a piece of Sauvie, and there aren’t many pieces to go around. In fact, most of the land is given over to large farm tracts (which explains the sparse, 0.1-person-per-acre population density), although you can also find floating homes, old farmhouses and a few condos—along with 12,000 acres of wildlife refuge lands—all 16.5 miles north of downtown. “You have privacy here, with more agricultural splendor than you could ever imagine,” says longtime resident and Windermere broker Cherie Sprando. Of course, during summer, things get more crowded as city dwellers flock to the island’s shores to swim in the Willamette. And when Sauvie’s namesake bridge, fresh from a $38 million makeover, reopens this fall, the visits are apt to increase. But for most of the year, the residents of this pastoral ’burb delight in life’s slower pace and a wealth of natural beauty—like, say, views of the mountains framed in their kitchen windows. —SW