Clark County home sales continue to improve

Residential values climb, more list properties as local job picture brightens

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 

Clark County real estate data

Clark County home sales continued to show signs of improvement in March, as residential values increased and more sellers listed their properties for sale.

March home sales were 28.1 percent higher than in February, based on RMLS listing-service data. There were 461 single-family homes sold in March, the same number of sales as the same month last year. The year-over-year data might have looked better if not for an ease-up on buying in February, as the snow piled up and the cold kept people indoors, said Mike Lamb, a Vancouver real estate broker with Windermere Real Estate/ Stellar Group.

The deals struck in February are counted as closed sales in March, he said.

"When you're looking at the March closings, you're looking at what happened in February," Lamb said. "We lost almost a week of time due to the snow."

Home values also registered higher in March. For the month, the median sales price for a house in Clark County was $245,400, up 7 percent from a year before. It could be interpreted as a sign of progress for homeowners looking to sell, Lamb said.

"That's a good healthy number. That reflects people saying, 'I've got some more equity, so now I'll do something,'?" he said.

At the same time, steeper price increases can push home sales down, along with a low supply of listings that can prevent some would-be buyers from making a deal.

In March, inventory levels were at a 4.6-month supply of houses listed for sale in Clark County, indicating it would take that long to exhaust the inventory if no new listings were added, RMLS reported. The supply increased slightly from 4.4 months' worth of listings in March 2013. But last month's inventory declined from a healthier inventory in February of 5.7 months' worth of listings.

Despite limited supply in some neighborhoods, Clark County's home sales continued at an expected pace in March, Lamb said.

For example, the RMLS reported 674 pending home sales in March, an increase of more than 10 percent over 612 pending home sales in the same month last year. Lamb credited improving job prospects in Clark County for driving sales. He also said prospective buyers who move here are attracted by the county's still-affordable housing.

According to the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington, the county's housing affordability index was 168.4 in the fourth quarter of 2013. That means that a family earning the median income can afford a home selling for 68.4 percent above the median home price, if they have the down payment and can secure a 30-year mortgage at prevailing rates. Statewide, the affordability index was 149.4 in the three months ending in December, meaning housing in some parts of the state is far less affordable.

"Our prices are still pretty decent," Lamb said.