FAQs—Living in the Columbia River Gorge

1. Are there any differences to consider in living in Oregon vs. Washington?

Buyers should be aware that Oregon currently has approximately a 9% personal income tax rate. Washington does not have any personal state income tax. Residents who live in Washington and work in Oregon are still required to pay Oregon state income tax.

  • Oregon has no sales tax on purchases, Washington does.
  • Traveling over the Hood River Toll Bridge can become costly if you work or play a lot on the other side of the river from where you live.
  • When a home owner sells a piece of property in Washington they will be responsible for paying an Excise Sales Tax of 1.28% or 1.53% on the sale price depending on where the property being sold is located. The title company will calculate this cost and apply it to the seller’s expenses at closing.
  • The State of Washington requires that an addendum be signed by both parties stating that a sale may be cancelled by the Buyer if the Buyer is unable to obtain affordable insurance for the property. Affordable is defined as an annual cost not to exceed 1% of the sale price.
  • Wildlife appears to be more abundant on the Washington side of the Gorge vs. the Oregon side.
  • Land costs generally are less on the Washington side.

2. What zoning restrictions do I need to be most aware of in buying real estate?

  • Living in the Gorge brings some special considerations in matching your desired goals with applicable zoning guidelines. Building, remodeling, or even painting a home located within the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area (CGNSA) must be approved in compliance with several rules/ordinances and multiple government agencies. If your favorite color is bright yellow or hot pink, you’re likely not going to be able to have that feature in your dream home in the CGNSA.
  • Deferred property taxes will need to be paid if a Buyer wishes to place a dwelling on a property that is currently receiving special property tax treatment. Examples would be property zoned Exclusive Farm Use (EFU) or Forest Use (F-2). This may add up to several thousands of dollars. Research at the County Planner and Tax Assessor offices is HIGHLY recommended prior to making an offer on a property.
  • Dividing a parcel of land into one or more parcels can only be accomplished if zoning allows a larger parcel to be divided into smaller parcels based on zoning.

3. What is the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Act?

The US Congress in 1986 passed a law to accomplish two objectives:
#1. Protect and provide for the enhancement of the scenic, cultural, recreational, and natural resources of the Columbia River Gorge; and
#2. To protect and support the economy of the Columbia River Gorge area by encouraging growth to occur in existing urban areas and by allowing future economic development in a manner that is consistent with purpose #1.

4. What are my choices for title companies in the area?


419 State St. Suite Two
Hood River, OR 97031
100 W. 2nd St.
The Dalles, OR 97058
Wasco County Title
512 Washington
The Dalles, OR 97058


165 NE Estes Ave.
White Salmon, WA 98672
Klickitat County Title Co.
129 W. Main St.
Goldendale, WA 98620
Skamania County Title Co.
43 Russell Ave.
Stevenson, WA 98648

5. What are typical closing costs for buyers and sellers?

Buyer’s typical closing costs include:

  • Down payment
  • Credit report
  • Home inspection (Optional but HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
  • Appraisal
  • Loan origination fee (compare lenders)
  • Loan discount fee (compare lenders)
  • Extended Title Insurance (certain lenders require)
  • Escrow Fee (split 50/50 with Seller)
  • Documentation preparation
  • Lender/Underwriting
  • Endorsement/Reconveyance
  • Recording
  • Tax service fee
  • Flood Determination
  • Mailing services
  • E-mailing services

Pre-paid Expenses:

  • Interest/day from closing until end of that month.
  • 1-year of homeowner insurance.
  • County property taxes (prorated) Seller’s typical closing costs include:
  • Broker sales commission
  • Title Insurance
  • County property taxes due and not paid (prorated)

Seller’s typical closing costs include:

  • Escrow Fee (split 50/50 with buyer)
  • Mortgage balance pay-off
  • Pre-payment penalty
  • Excise Sales Tax (WA only)
  • City or County liens
  • Required repairs
  • Inspections (VA or FHA required)
  • Well testing
  • Septic tank pumping & inspection (buyer usually requires)

6. What is Washington excise tax?

The Washington Excise tax was implemented by state and local government to quickly tap into the expanding economic growth in 1988. The tax is charged to the seller during the sale of property in the state of Washington. Many times this cost is contained in the asking price sought by the seller when deciding how much to ask for their property.

This Excise tax generated approximately $435 million dollars in revenues in 1999 for state and local governments. County treasurers collect the real estate excise tax for the state. In return, counties keep one percent of the collections for administrative purposes. The lion share collected (92.3%) goes into the state general fund (GFS) where it helps pay for education, social services, prisons, environmental programs, and other responsibilities of state government. Of the net proceeds to the state, 7.7 percent goes into the Public Works Assistance Account, which helps local governments pay for public infrastructure and facilities.

7. How are property taxes calculated in Oregon and Washington?

The property tax year begins on July 1st of each year and runs through June 30th of the following year.

The property tax year begins on January 1st of each year and runs through December 31st.