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Sept. 25, 2020

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Clark County housing market sees year-over-year gains

Fall slowdown in October had less impact than usual

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:
3 Photos
A real estate sign is posted outside a Salmon Creek home for sale on Oct. 15.
A real estate sign is posted outside a Salmon Creek home for sale on Oct. 15. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Sales metrics for the Clark County housing market cooled slightly in October but grew compared with October 2018, echoing results from September that showed the market making year-over-year gains even as it entered the usual fall season slowdown.

That’s according to the latest report from the Regional Multiple Listing service released last week.

In his own monthly report, local real estate agent Mike Lamb characterized the September-to-October decline in sales activity as much smaller than the typical seasonal pattern.

“October’s strong performance presented a significant contrast to what we saw in the second half of 2018, when the market slowed dramatically,” he wrote.

Pending sales were reported at 753, a 0.5 percent decrease from the 757 reported in September, but a 9.8 percent gain over the 686 reported in October 2018. Similarly, the 695 closed sales represent a 4.9 percent drop from the 731 reported in September, but a 2.2 percent year-over-year gain, rising from 680 in October 2018.

Lamb noted that the backlog of pending sales at the end of the month was 1,407 – a 20.6 percent year-over-year increase, and enough to likely make up for the fact that 2019’s year-to-date sales were slightly below the future reported at the end of October 2018.

“With the large backlog of pending sales waiting to close, total sales for the year should easily beat 2018’s totals,” Lamb wrote.

New listings were reported at 808, falling 10.6 percent short of the 904 reported in September and 4.2 percent short of the 843 reported in October 2018. This again follows the pattern from September, which saw year-over-year growth in sales but a decline in new listings.

The region’s inventory in months, a measurement of how long it would take to sell through the existing stock of housing on the market, remained at 2.5 months, the same measurement reported in September – although it remained lower than the 2.7 months reported in October 2018.

Home prices rose both month-to-month and year-over-year. The average sale price in October was $416,600, compared with $401,000 in September and $405,700 in October 2018. The median sale price was $375,000, compared with $366,500 in September and $369,900 in October 2018.

“Interestingly, strong sales activity helped average prices increase in October, despite the season,” Lamb wrote.

A monthly report from John L. Scott Real Estate offered a breakdown of sales activity by price range, which showed substantial variation in availability between the upper and lower ends of the market, consistent with a pattern observed in previous months.

Pending sales exceeded new listings for homes in the three pricing subcategories below $500,000 (below $250,000, $250,000-$350,000 and $350,000-$500,000), and the report listed between 0.9 and 1.3 months of unsold supply of homes in each subcategory, which the report characterized as a severe shortage.

CEO J. Lennox Scott wrote in the report that resale listings tend to hit a low point for the year in November and December, with more homes going under contract than new listings.

“Strong job growth and low interest rates in the threes have already built up pressure in the more affordable and midprice ranges, where 75 percent of sales occur,” he wrote. “Strong price appreciation is ahead, and we anticipate frenzy sales activity intensity after the first of the year, up through the midprice ranges.”

Lamb did offer a note of caution about the region’s overall inventory supply, pointing out that there were only 1.07 new listings for each new pending sale in October.

“While there may be enough inventory for the short term, eventually the lack of inventory will constrain sales,” he wrote.

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