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April 4, 2020

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Clark County housing market sees sales gain in November

Year-over-year growth paired with decline in new home listings

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:
2 Photos
A sign directs home buyers toward a house for sale in Salmon Creek on Oct. 15. Clark County's housing market continued a run of seasonally high sales activity in November, although there was a decline in new listings. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)
A sign directs home buyers toward a house for sale in Salmon Creek on Oct. 15. Clark County's housing market continued a run of seasonally high sales activity in November, although there was a decline in new listings. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The Clark County residential housing market saw year-over-year sales growth in November, but the gains were coupled with a dearth of new home listings. That’s according to the latest report from the Regional Multiple Listing Service.

“It came out surprisingly strong for real estate sellers given the lack of inventory,” said Terry Wollam, managing broker at ReMax in Vancouver.

The RMLS reported 698 pending sales in November, a decrease of 7.3 percent from the 753 pending sales reported in October, but a 23.8 percent increase over the 564 pending sales reported in November 2018. Closed sales were reported a 681, a 2 percent decrease from 695 in October but a 13.3 percent year-over-year gain.

Mike Lamb, a broker at Windermere Stellar, described the sales activity as a continuation of a strong run for the market in the second half of the year, one which has consistently kept ahead of typical seasonal declines.

“The exceptionally strong sales activity this fall continued to present a sharp contrast to what we saw in the second half of 2018,” he wrote in his monthly report.

The report showed 641 new listings, a 20.7 percent decrease from the 808 reported in October and a 12 percent decrease from the 728 reported in November 2018. The region’s inventory in months — an estimate of how long it would take to sell through all of the existing backlog — dropped from 2.5 months in October to 2.2 months in November.

“For November, there was 2.2 months in inventory, the lowest number in inventory since June 2018,” said Wollam. “We should see the months in inventory continue to dip in December, putting additional pressure for real estate prices to rise this coming spring.”

Wollam estimated that about 25 percent of the current inventory is proposed homes or homes in the process of being built, but he noted that there have been about 20 percent fewer new construction permits filed in 2019 to date compared with the year before, which he said will likely keep inventory levels low.

A decline in listing activity is typical for November, Lamb wrote, and while the report showed a year-over-year decline from November 2018, the results are a gain over November 2017 and November 2016. Still, he wrote, the final numbers mean there were just 0.9 new listings for every pending sale.

“So for Christmas this year, our wish should be for lot more good listings,” he concluded.

Wollam also pointed out that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are increasing the loan amounts they will fund after the start of 2020, which he said would likely lead to an increase in sales activity beyond the usual seasonal gains that the market tends to see after the start of the new year.

The average sale price declined slightly, from $416,600 in October to $416,100 in November, but the median sale price — with half the homes selling above that price, half below –rose from $375,000 in October to $384,500 in November. Both numbers are up year-over-year – the average sale price was $386,200 in November 2018 and the median was $344,900. Lamb attributed the rise in part to November’s strong sales activity.

A monthly report from the Clark County John L. Scott Real Estate office offered a breakdown by price range, which showed that the disparity between sales and new listings was especially pronounced for homes priced between $250,000 and $500,000.

Scott’s own November sales data showed 195 pending sales compared with 139 new listings for houses priced between $250,000 and $350,000, and 199 pending sales compared with 143 new listings in the $350,000-$500,000 range. The report estimated 0.7 months of unsold inventory remaining in the lower price range and 1.2 months remaining in the upper range.

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