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Housing off to strong start in Clark County

2019 kicks off with surge in new listings, solid closed sales numbers, higher home sale prices

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:

The Southwest Washington residential real estate market kicked off 2019 with a surge in new listings, according to the latest data from the Regional Multiple Listing Service’s Market Action Report.

The 860 new listings reported in January are more than double the 394 that were seen in December, and they represent a 13.6 percent increase over the number of new listings in January 2018. This January saw more new listings than any prior January since 2010, according to the report.

There were 474 closed sales in January, which is a 9.2 percent decrease from December but a 1.3 percent increase over January 2018. Pending sales showed the opposite trend — January’s 628 pending sales exceeded December’s numbers but lagged 5 percent behind the pending sales reported in January 2018.

The increase in pending sales from December is in keeping with normal seasonal market trends, according to Vancouver Realtor Mike Lamb. It’s also notable when compared to the past few years — although pending sales declined from January 2018, they rose 7.2 percent compared to January 2017.

“That improvement signaled a change in the trajectory of the market, since activity had been slowing in the last quarter of 2018,” Lamb wrote in his own monthly report.

The decline in closed sales is also typical for January, he wrote, but the increase over January 2018 indicates that closings were better than usual. 2017 represented the recent high point for January closed sales, he wrote, but this January was the second-best January for closed sales since 2005.

The region’s inventory in months — an estimate of the amount of time it would take to sell through the current inventory — rose to 3.2 in January, the highest number reported by the Regional Multiple Listing Service since at least the beginning of 2016.

Average home sale prices rose to $406,400 in January, an increase of 4.6 percent over December and a 10 percent increase over the average reported price of $369,400 reported in January 2018. The median sale price climbed as well, from $345,000 in January 2018 and $350,000 in December to $355,000 this January.

Portland area sees dip

Those price trends stand in contrast to the numbers reported for the Portland metro region, which saw its average sale price drop two-tenths of a percent and its median sale price drop 1.3 percent from January 2018. However, the actual prices in the Portland market remain higher than in Southwest Washington — $435,600 for the average sale price and $384,900 for the median.

The January numbers show that Clark County’s housing market is off to a good start in 2019, Lamb concluded, although he cautioned that February’s numbers may see some declines in market activity due to the recent string of poor weather.

And despite the large increase in new listings, he wrote, the total number of active listings at the end of January was lower than in most other years since 2005, indicating that the market is having trouble growing its inventory. Lamb estimated that there were just 1.37 new listings in the market for each new pending sale in January.

“That tells us the new listings were being absorbed as quickly as they came on the market,” he wrote. “It also tells us the challenge for this market continues to be a shortage of good inventory. If that continues, it will constrain this market. So we need more good listings.”

Columbian business reporter

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