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Nov. 28, 2021

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Sizzling weather barely cools June housing market in S.W. Washington

Home prices continue to rise as record demand exceeds supply

By , Columbian business reporter
3 Photos
New homes are under construction at Kennedy Farm in Ridgefield .
New homes are under construction at Kennedy Farm in Ridgefield . (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The Southwest Washington housing market stayed hot in June, with an influx of new listings balanced out by a surge in closed sales, according to the latest report from the Regional Multiple Listing Service.

Local real estate agents noted that June’s numbers were likely held back slightly by lower sales activity in the final week of the month due to the unprecedented heat wave that scorched the Portland region.

Even so, the numbers were impressive, according to Terry Wollam, managing broker at Wollam and Associates — all the more so because the heat wave was just one of several factors expected to cool market activity. There were also graduation parties and more frequent vacations as COVID restrictions began to ease.

“It seemed there was pent-up demand for people to travel,” he wrote in an email, “and with that, I was expecting a large drop-off in sales activity that did not take place.”

The end of June also marked the official end of most of Washington’s COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, but local brokers said they didn’t expect the change to have a significant effect on the market moving forward because restrictions had already been partially loosened and the industry had adapted to the guidelines that remained in place.

“Regarding real estate restrictions, they had gotten to the point long before June that they didn’t impede real estate sales activity,” Mike Lamb, a broker at Windermere Stellar, wrote in an email. “You can see that pretty well from the record sales numbers.”

New listings, at a reported 1,126, grew 6.7 percent from the 1,055 in May and 15 percent from the 979 listed in June 2020, according to the RMLS report. That amount of listing activity was relatively high by historical standards, Lamb wrote in his own monthly analysis, but it’s simply running into record-high demand.

The local market is “breaking the 2005 sales records with far less inventory than was available in 2005,” he wrote. “That tells us sales activity has been completely dependent upon how many new listings came in.”

Pending sales saw a slight decline with 1,002 in June, down 3.6 percent from the 1,039 reported in May and down 3.3 percent from the 1,036 reported in June 2020. Closed sales increased sharply, however, rising 16.1 percent from 832 in May to 966 in June — a 33.4 percent increase over the 724 closed sales in June of last year.

In his own monthly analysis, Lamb attributed the relative year-over-year decline in pending sales to pent-up sales activity in June 2020 because the two prior months had seen less activity due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the initial round of lockdown measures.

The region’s inventory in months, a measure of how long it would take to sell through the existing inventory of listings, held steady for a third month in a row at 0.6, the second-lowest level the RMLS has ever reported after March’s 0.5 months.

Sale prices ticked upward, with the average price rising from $520,600 in May to $530,000 in June and the median price climbing from $465,000 in May to $476,800 in June. Comparing the first half of 2021 to the first half of 2020, average sale prices were up 18.9 percent — from $422,900 to $502,800. Median prices were up 15.2 percent, from $389,900 to $449,000.

“The surging price increases in June continued to be the result of record demand exceeding supply, despite really good listing activity,” Lamb wrote in his analysis.

In its own monthly analysis of the RMLS numbers, the local office of John L. Scott Real Estate offered a breakdown of sales activity by price range, showing extremely low inventory in every category up to $1 million.

The $250,000 to $350,000 range had an estimated 0.3 months of inventory remaining, while the $350,000 to $500,000 range and $500,000 to $750,000 range — which together account for more than 70 percent of all listings on the market — had an estimated 0.2 and 0.4 months remaining, respectively. The $750,000 to $1 million range had an estimated 0.6 months remaining.

Columbian business reporter