High-end home tour shows off county’s more luxurious side

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter



If you go

What: Doorways to Luxury, a tour of more than 30 high-end homes priced between $600,000 and $3.6 million.

When: Noon to 5 p.m. June 5.

Where: Throughout Clark County.

Cost: Free.

Info:Doorways to Luxury

When it comes to buying houses, the rich seem to be leading the marketplace, according to agents who work in Clark County’s luxury market.

But because the properties they show are only appropriate for a handful of buyers, local high-end home sellers are banding together to draw attention to upscale — $600,000 and above — mansions with acreage and waterfront views on the north side of the Columbia River. The group wants to make sure wealthy buyers see every possible home in their price range in Clark County, said Linda Horowitz, a Vancouver broker and head of the Greater Vancouver Luxury Homes Group.

The group of 60 to 70 brokers tour each others’ listings monthly to educate the limited pool of buyers about what’s out there, said Horowitz, a broker with Windermere/Stellar Group in Vancouver.

On Sunday, June 5, the luxury homes group plans to cast its net even wider for potential buyers, with an afternoon tour of more than 30 upscale properties for sale in Clark County. The self-guided Doorways to Luxury tour spans the local landscape, from the hills above Camas and Washougal to the shores of the Columbia River and the wide-open acreage of Ridgefield and Hockinson.

“It will answer the question, ‘What does a million dollar home look like in Clark County,’” said Sue Logan, a broker and luxury home specialist with Vancouver-based Kimbal Logan Residential.

Turns out, sales of high-end homes in the area don’t look much different now than they looked a year ago, according to sales tracked by RMLS, a Portland-based real estate listing service.

In Clark County, the RMLS reported 13 houses sold in the $800,000 and above price range from November 2010 through May — down from the same period a year earlier, but about even when pending sales are included.

Moreover, home values have held steady in the high-end market while softening on the lower end of the market, according to the RMLS.

In the six months ending in May, Clark County’s luxury homes sold for $246 per square foot, up 16 percent from the same period in 2010.

Meanwhile in April, the overall median price — half sold for more, half for less — was $189,000 for all houses that were sold through the RMLS in Clark County. It was down 8.6 percent from the same month in 2010.

Ed Faulk, a broker with Vancouver-based Coldwell Banker Seal, views the outlook in the local high-end market as a sign that Clark County’s image is improving.

“All of a sudden, you go from being thought of as a stepchild to Portland, to being in vogue,” Faulk said.

That’s why this year’s tour will focus on drawing potential homebuyers from Portland, Logan said.

“The focus is to educate the population, primarily our neighbors to the south,” she said.