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Sept. 19, 2020

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Housing rebounds in January

Inventory recovers from decline seen in November, December

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:
3 Photos
A sign lists a home for sale in Salmon Creek in October. After a seasonal slump in November and December, the Clark County residential housing market saw a jump in listing and sales activity in January.
A sign lists a home for sale in Salmon Creek in October. After a seasonal slump in November and December, the Clark County residential housing market saw a jump in listing and sales activity in January. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The Clark County residential housing market surged in January, posting big spikes in pending and closed sales and a massive jump in new listings — not enough to raise the inventory beyond where it was for most of last year, but enough to pull it back from a sharp decline in November and December.

According to the latest report from the Regional Multiple Listing Service, January saw 736 new listings, a 72.2 percent jump from the 420 reported in December, but still a 14.4 percent decrease from the 860 reported in January 2019.

Sales activity, on the other hand, both outpaced the previous month and grew year over year. Pending sales were reported at 672, a 26.8 percent gain from the 530 accepted offers in December and a 7 percent jump over the 628 pending sales from January 2019.

The closed sales total came in at 491, an increase of 28.8 percent over the 690 from December as well as a 3.6 percent jump from the 474 reported in January 2019.

The region’s Inventory in Months — an estimate of how long it would take to sell through all of the existing backlog — jumped from 1.8 in December to 2.4 in January, bringing it back in line with the average for most of 2019.

The inventory stayed consistently between 2.3 and 2.5 months from March through October 2019, then dropped in November and December. That’s a typical seasonal pattern for the market — last month Mike Lamb, a broker at Windermere Stellar in Vancouver, wrote that the declines during the holiday season would likely be offset by a jump in listing activity in early 2020.

“Listing activity typically spools up in the first quarter,” he wrote.

Prices jump

The jump in market activity included a jump in home prices, with average and median sale prices both climbing slightly from the December numbers.

The January average sale price was reported at $414,300, a very slight bump from the $414,000 average reported in December. The median sale price saw a bigger jump, from $375,000 in December to $382,000 in January.

For comparison, the average sale price for all of 2019 was $406,400, and the median was $355,000. The January average sale price for the Portland metro area was reported at $463,000, with the median at $406,000.

Another report from the Vancouver office of John L. Scott Real Estate offered a breakdown of Vancouver sales by price range based on its own sales data, which highlighted a more severe inventory shortage among lower-priced homes.

New listings slightly outpaced pending sales for houses priced at or below $250,000, a reversal from last month. But sales exceeded new listings in both the $250,000 to $350,000 and the $350,000 to $500,000 ranges, and Scott estimated less than a month’s supply of inventory remaining in all three price categories.

“In Clark County, homes priced up to $500,000 (this range comprises 79 percent of sales activity) are virtually sold out,” Scott wrote. “Overall unsold inventory is down 35 percent compared to January 2019, and the lack of homes for sale is pushing prices higher.”

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