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News / Business / Clark County Business

Clark County home sales, listings surge in March, still more buyers than sellers

By Kelsey Turner, Columbian staff reporter
Published: April 10, 2023, 5:15pm

Clark County’s housing market is heating up.

Jumps in new listings and sales activity in March show homebuyers are making moves this spring — a typically busy season for buying.

“It’s basically the best month we’ve had in six months,” Windermere Northwest Living broker Mike Lamb said.

Pending sales in Clark County rose to 585 in March, up 17 percent from February. New listings surged by more than 50 percent, up from 461 in February to 701 in March, though listings remain low relative to previous years, according to the most recent Regional Multiple Listing Service report.

Despite new houses on the market, demand continues to outpace supply.

Lamb noted real estate agents are getting multiple offers on many listings.

“We’re still seeing listings sell in the first week,” he said.

Houses were on the market an average of 60 days before selling, down from 72 days in February.

As the market gains speed, high costs along with the county’s limited housing supply pose challenges for many buyers. Median home prices increased to $513,000 in March, up 2.5 percent from February.

“There’s actually more buyers than we have inventory for and that’s what’s creating these competitive situations,” Lamb said. “Unless you’ve been out looking, you don’t realize how hard it is to find a house. It is really difficult for buyers.”

Lamb expects these challenges to continue, especially for first- and second-time homebuyers, who typically have less equity and might struggle to afford mortgages. Interest rates for 30-year fixed mortgages are hovering above 6 percent, according to the government-sponsored home mortgage packager Freddie Mac.

“This is where the market is really distressing to me. At the entry level, prices are high (and) mortgage rates impact those folks a lot,” Lamb said. “Until about 2000, we were building entry-level homes in Clark County that anybody could afford. And that isn’t really happening anymore.”

To keep pace with population growth, Clark County needs more than 103,000 additional units over the next 20 years, more than half of which must be affordable to low-income residents, according to state Department of Commerce projections.

To navigate these hurdles, Lamb encourages first-time buyers to save as much money as possible.

“Start living like you’re making the house payment now, and throw that money into savings,” he said. “Maybe you’re not ready in a year to buy a house, but if you keep saving at that rate, you’re going to improve your ability to buy a house.”

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

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Columbian staff reporter