The Clark County housing market showed broad gains in activity in April, according to the latest Southwest Washington Market Action report from the Regional Multiple Listing Service. Closed sales showed a small year-over-year decrease, but all other market numbers rose last month.
“All of my brokers are very busy — twice as busy as they were last month,” said Jason Walchli, office leader at the Vancouver branch of real estate company John L. Scott.
New listings jumped to 1,140 in April, a 10.9 percent increase over the 1,028 new listings the month before and a 14.3 percent increase over the 997 in April 2018. In fact, the report said, it was the strongest April for new listings since 2008.
“We’ve seen an expansion of inventory,” said Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because demand is still there.”
April saw 877 pending sales, a 3.7 percent increase over the previous month and a 7.5 percent year-over-year increase. Closed sales were reported at 676, a 5.8 percent increase over the previous month — though that figure represents a 2 percent decrease over the 690 closings reported in April 2018.
With strong numbers for both new listings and sales, the region’s inventory in months — an estimate of the number of months it would take to sell through the existing inventory — remained unchanged from March to April at 2.4.
That’s great news for sellers, who can expect to receive offers quickly, according to Joan Mezzanatto, a relocation specialist at the Vancouver John L. Scott office.
“(It’s) not good for buyers, because they’re going to be in bidding wars,” she said.
On the other hand, she said, interest rates have remained low for the past few months, so it’s still a good time for buyers to take the leap — though they might have to be patient and keep trying even if they get outbid.
“I’m hoping we’ll get more on the market so it’ll be easier for buyers,” she said.
The inventory status also varies substantially at opposite ends of the market, Walchli said. His office estimated the inventory in months to be fewer than three weeks for houses in the $250,000 to $350,000 range, and nearly seven months for houses above $1 million.
“In Clark County, if you’re (looking for a house for) under 350, we have an extreme shortage and around one month of inventory, which is not a lot,” he said.
Sale prices in Southwest Washington have generally trended upward each month in the past year, though April was an exception, according to the RMLS data — the average residential sale price dropped from $397,100 in March to $391,000 in April, and the median sale price also fell from $367,000 in March to $360,000 in April.
However, both measurements still show slight increases when compared year-over-year. The average sale price in April 2018 was $389,200 and the median sale price was $352,300.
Gardner cautioned against drawing any conclusions from the monthly price decrease — longer-term trends offer a clearer picture of the market’s direction, he said, particularly in a relatively smaller market such as Clark County’s, where pricing numbers are more prone to monthly swings.
Looking at the near-term future of the housing market, Gardner said he expected to see a similar pattern in Clark County and much of the western United States — “a move back to a more balanced housing market.”
That means prices are likely going to continue to rise, he said, but not at the breakneck pace of the past few years.
“I do expect price growth to be at a slower pace,” he said.