Clark County finally saw a slight improvement in its supply-constrained housing market situation in January, according to the latest report from the Regional Multiple Listing Service.
Southwest Washington’s inventory in months — a measure of how long it would take to sell through the existing supply of houses on the market — rose from 0.6 in December to 0.8 in January. That’s still a near-record low, but it’s the first time the number has increased since August.
The change was due to a substantial rise in new listings in January. New listings were reported at 854, a 55 percent increase from 551 in December and a 16 percent jump over January 2020, according to the RMLS report.
Pending sales saw a large spike, too, keeping pace with the listing gains. Mike Lamb, a broker at Windermere Stellar in Vancouver, said the sales backlog at the end of the month was the biggest in at least a decade.
“It is hard to overstate how good the market was in January,” he wrote in his own monthly report. “But while the record sales activity was noteworthy, the best news was that listing activity was very good. Even so, demand was greater than the supply.”
Pending sales, at 838, saw a 32.6 percent jump from December’s 632 and a 24.7 percent year-over-year gain from 672 in January 2020. Closed sales declined 27.5 percent from December, falling from 803 to 582, although they still climbed 18.5 percent from 491 in January 2020.
Record high demand continues to be the defining characteristic of the current market. Lamb said all of his fellow brokers have reported working with multiple buyers who have been unable to find properties and find themselves competing with multiple offers on every available listing.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that no broker practicing today has seen a market with such strong demand,” he wrote. “And there seems to be no easing of that demand.”
Home prices have been on an accelerated upward trend in recent months as the chronic low inventory forces buyers into bidding wars. January’s high sales activity ensured that the price growth continued despite the rise in new listings.
The average sale price rose from $467,800 in December to $475,400 in January, and the median price climbed from $420,000 to $425,000. A year ago, the average price was $414,300, and the median was $382,000.
Listing activity typically picks up in the spring, Lamb wrote, and brokers and buyers alike are going to need to hope that this year follows the usual pattern in order to keep up with the demand.
“If it does, 2021 could be a record setting year,” he wrote.
The local office of John L. Scott Real Estate publishes a monthly report based on its own internal data that includes a breakdown of sales by price category. The January report showed the largest shortage in the $250,000-$350,000 range, with only an estimated 0.2 month of inventory remaining. The shortage in the $350,000-$500,000 range was almost equally dire at 0.3 month.
Notably, the shortages extended all the way up to the top of the price brackets, with every price range below $1 million showing, at most, 0.6 month of inventory. Even in the $1 million-plus category, the report estimated only 1.9 months of supply.