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News / Business / Clark County Business

Clark County housing market sees high demand in April

Pending sales increase, new listings decrease

By Mia Ryder-Marks, Columbian staff reporter
Published: May 11, 2023, 6:56pm

Just like April’s fickle weather, the housing market gave Clark County residents mixed signals last month.

The demand for real estate in Southwest Washington remained hot in April, with increases in pending sales and less time on the market pointing to a competitive market. Yet, continued drops in new home listings showed there still aren’t enough properties to meet the demand, according to the most recent Regional Multiple Listing Service report.

The report showed there was a nearly 4 percent jump in new pending residential sales, the most the market has shown in Southwest Washington since August 2022, according to findings from Windermere Northwest Living broker Mike Lamb.

New listings dropped by more than 11 percent from March, and closed sales were down 1.5 percent from March.

Lamb noted pending sales numbers are the real predictor to what is going on in the market right now. What pending sales are pointing toward is there is too much demand for the amount of inventory currently available.

“There is so much demand, most houses that are being sold have multiple offers,” he said.

Houses were on the market an average of 44 days before selling, down from 60 days in March.

But the large demand is also helping out the market. Compared with last year, average home prices — which includes all property types — have decreased 1.6 percent from $571,400 to $562,000.

“Because of the strong demand, we’re seeing prices improve a little bit,” Lamb said.

However, on a month-to-month comparison, median sale prices — which only include residential home sales — increased to $525,000, a 2.5 percent increase from the average of $513,000 in March.

Closed sales, 466, decreased 42.2 percent from the 806 closings in April 2022. Closing sales also decreased 1.5 percent from the 473 closings in March. Lamb said he found this to be strange.

“The backlog has been improving pending sales, and so, one would have predicted reasonably that the number of closings would have gone up in April, too, but it went down from March. That’s an oddity,” Lamb said.

Lamb predicts a number of reasons could have played into the market seeing fewer closing sales, one being the closings were postponed to May.

“We’ll know better (what led to these numbers) as we get into May and June,” he said.

But what about the first-time homebuyers navigating the complicated housing landscape? Lamb’s advice is three prong: Save money, stay patient and be willing to compromise.

He said first-time homebuyers should consider saving as much as possible for a down payment, as the market is extremely competitive.

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“The more you can save, it will reduce the cost of the house going forward and make it more manageable. So while you’re waiting for a house to come up, save like crazy,” Lamb said. “I also always advise first-time buyers to meet with a lender, get pre-qualified and pre-approved.”

He also reminds buyers to be patient while they search for the right house but also be willing to settle on a starter home.

“I think you have to be willing to say ‘this (isn’t) my ultimate house.’ I think all of us who have houses started off with a home that was less than what we really wanted,” Lamb said. “But you have to start somewhere. And if you get your foot in the door and get a house, it increases your value in the market because you’re creating equity for you. That will make it easier to get toward the house you ultimately want later.”

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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.