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April 2, 2020

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Clark County housing market sees strong December

County closes out year of solid sales and low inventory

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:

The Clark County residential housing market cooled in December, keeping with normal seasonal patterns, but it outpaced December 2018 in year-over-year comparisons. That’s according to the latest report from the Regional Multiple Listing Service.

“The Clark County real estate market closed 2019 having had one of its best second halves in recent memory, and a very good year overall,” Mike Lamb, a broker at Windermere Stellar in Vancouver, wrote in his own monthly analysis.

December saw 420 new listings, a 34.5 percent drop from the 641 reported in November, but a 6.6 percent increase from December 2018. Pending sales fared similarly at 530, a 24.1 percent drop from the 698 accepted offers in the previous month but a 9.7 percent jump over the 483 pending sales from December 2018.

“Listing activity slowed in December, which was typical for the season,” Lamb wrote.

Closed sales broke the pattern with a total of 690, a 1.3 percent increase over the 681 reported in November and a 32.2 percent increase over the 522 reported in December 2018.

The region’s inventory — an estimate of how long it would take to sell through all of the existing backlog — dropped from 2.2 months in November to 1.8 months in December, marking the second month in a row in which the inventory dropped following eight months in which it held relatively steady between 2.3 months and 2.5 months.

“The very good 2019 market was the result of the confluence of two essential factors,” Lamb wrote. “One was strong demand, and the other was the larger inventory available in the first half of the year.”

The high sales activity eventually started to diminish the available inventory, Lamb added, and he said the decline will begin to constrain sales unless listing activity picks back up.

There were only 0.79 new listings for every sale, Lamb wrote, which left the inventory at a very low place by the end of December compared with recent years. Looking at the past 20 years, he wrote, the only years with a smaller ending inventory were 2016 and 2017.

“Fortunately, listing activity typically spools up in the first quarter,” he wrote, “and if it does, the 2020 market should also be very good.”

Average and median sale prices both dropped slightly from November, although they remained higher year-over-year. The December average sale price was reported at $414,000, compared with $416,100 in November and $388,600 in December 2018. The median sale price came in at $375,000, compared with $384,500 in November and $350,000 in December 2018.

The average sale price for the full year 2019 was reported at $407,700 with a median sale price of $371,000, compared with an average of $393,000 and a median of $355,000 for the full year 2018.

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

Pending sales outpaced new listings in all price brackets below $1 million. The report estimated less than a month of remaining inventory for homes below $350,000 — 0.8 months for homes priced below $250,000 and 0.7 months for homes priced between $250,000 and $350,000.

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