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News / Business / Clark County Business

Listings dwindle, home prices rise

S.W. Washington real estate market endures shortage

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian Business Editor
Published: December 15, 2015, 5:45am

Southwest Washington’s real estate market endured a continued shortage of new listings in November, while prices continued to climb in the face of strong demand, according to the November “Market Action” report from RMLS, the regional real estate listing service.

New listings in November were down by 1.6 percent from November 2014, even as pending sales jumped by 25 percent in the same time period, the RMLS report showed. Active listings also were down sharply.

Mike Lamb, a broker at Windermere Stellar Vancouver, noted that there were 2,157 active listings in November for all types of commercial, industrial, residential and multifamily real estate in Southwest Washington, down by 8.8 percent from October and by 24.4 percent from November 2014.

“This was the smallest number of active listings in November in at least 20 years,” Lamb wrote in his monthly market report.

Taking into account only active residential listings without offers, Lamb said, the inventory of homes for sale would satisfy market demand for only 2.2 months. The inventory of homes for sale drops to just 1.7 months when homes under construction or proposed are excluded from the count, he added.

The 613 pending sales for the month represented the strongest sales month for November since 2005, RMLS reported. Even with the 25 percent increase from November 2014, pending sales were down by 19 percent from October of this year and closed sales dropped by 30 percent from a month ago.

Those monthly declines in closed sales were due in part to a new national standard for financing disclosures that took effect Oct. 3, said Terry Wollam, managing broker at ReMax Equity Group — Wollam & Associates. These new disclosures require additional time, which moved some closures into December, he said.

The median sale price of a home — half sold for more, half for less — was $274,000 in November. That’s up 7.5 percent from November 2014 and 5.4 percent from the previous November high, in 2007. The new median marked the seventh month in a row that the median sale price was higher than the previous monthly peak, Lamb said.

The average residential sale price was $302,900, up 8.7 percent from November 2014.

“Looking back on 2015, we will remember this as a very good year, except there were a lot of buyers who could not find homes,” Lamb wrote. “That will undoubtedly be the footnote to our 2015 market. In fact, the lack of inventory this year has exacerbated the situation, since many homeowners who would have liked to move were reluctant to list their homes for sale until they could find another home.”

On the positive side, Lamb added, rising prices give more homeowners the equity they need to move to a new home.

Columbian Business Editor