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Jan. 29, 2022

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Homebuilders play catch-up in Vancouver-Portland area

Median home price in metro area hits record high

By , Columbian Business Reporter

Homebuilding is soaring to catch up with the post-recession market rebound in the Portland-Vancouver metro area, while the median home sale price in the region is now at a record high.

A new report by the RealtyTrak research firm noted that the median home sale price in the Portland metro area reached an all-time high of $294,000 in June 2015. By December, the region’s median home sale price had climbed to $320,000, according to the Market Action report produced by the Portland-based RMLS real estate listing service.

Home sale prices in Clark County also hit a new high in 2015, with the $272,200 median in September exceeding the pre-recession peak of $267,500 in September 2007. But home sale prices in Clark County have held steady since September, ending the year with a median sale price of $272,500 in December.

The median sale price increased 8.6 percent in Clark County between 2014 and 2015.

In its report, RealtyTrak said that 38 percent of major markets it analyzed recorded new all-time home price peaks in 2015, and more than 90 percent of markets saw home price increases for the year.

“With some local market exceptions, the 2015 home sales data paints the picture of a properly functioning U.S. housing market where homeowners can once again count on real estate as an appreciating asset,” wrote Daren Blomquist, vice president of industry analysts RealtyTrac, in the company’s report.

Clark County’s housing market remains tight, with a shortage of homes partly responsible for driving prices back up to pre-recession levels.

“We’ve been catching up to where we should have been,” said Terry Wollam, managing broker with Vancouver’s ReMax Equity Group Wollam & Associates. “We’re not above where we should be. We’ve had a sharp increase, but it’s only because of how far we dropped.”

Sales across the country are reaching pre-recession levels — RealtyTrac said U.S. home sales in 2015 saw their biggest price gains since 2007.

The country’s median home price rose 10 percent to $206,500 last year, as 79 metropolitan areas saw prices rise — and 33 of those saw new record highs.

That’s good news for homeowners and brokers, but not so much for those entering the buying market.

“Wages still have some catching up to do for what home prices and rents have increased to,” Wollam said. “Ideally, (price) increases would have been a little more gradual.”

He said the rate of price growth is likely going to look the same for the next few years as the housing supply slowly catches up with demand.

“For the foreseeable next couple of years, new construction will continue to make up a greater percentage of homes on the market,” Wollam said.

Once that happens, prices could “plateau” in the area by 2018 before climbing a little less sharply, he said. Any increases in interest rates could affect prices as well.

“It’s partly inventory levels catching up and partly the expectation of interest rates to increase,” Wollam said. “They balance each other out.”

Columbian Business Reporter