Median home price, sales jump in Clark County

Housing rebound continues in the second quarter

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

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Clark County's housing rebound continued in the second quarter, with all indicators showing improvement over the same period last year, Portland-based RMLS reported on Saturday.

Closed home sales totaled 1,726 in the three months ending in June, a 21.5 percent leap above the 1,355 sales closed in the second quarter of 2012. The median sales price — half sold for more, half for less — was $221,500 countywide, up 14 percent from $194,200 in the second quarter of last year.

In June alone, 622 closed home sales registered a 29 percent increase over the 482 sales closed in June 2012. June was the fourth month in a row where activity topped that of the last six years, according to Mike Lamb, a Vancouver broker with Windermere Real Estate/Stellar Group.

"To put this in perspective, sales were up 60.4 percent from June 2010, up 14.9 percent from June 2009, and up 50.1 percent from June 2008, making this by far the best June for new sales since 2007," Lamb said.

There were 3.7 months worth of available homes for sale in June, according to the RMLS, down 2.6 percent from May and down 31.5 percent from one year ago. The number means the supply of Clark County homes on the market would be exhausted in 3.7 months if no new listings were added.

Rising demand and a shrinking supply of houses listed for sale has not only pushed selling prices higher, but also prompted a surge of homebuilding activity, as measured by permits issued. In the three months ending in June, 325 permits to build single-family houses were issued in Vancouver and unincorporated Clark County. That's a 24 percent increase over the 262 permits issued during the same period last year.

The number of homes sold as foreclosures also increased dramatically in the second quarter. Lamb attributed the surge to more foreclosures being sold off by banks that were stalled by a multistate, $25 billion settlement negotiated in 2012 with the nation's top mortgage companies. Lamb said banks likely will recover more losses by having waited to sell off the foreclosure assets, also called real-estate-owned.

"This is an opportune time for the banks to unload some of that inventory because the values have come up and the demand is strong," he said.