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Clark County housing market rebounds

The Clark County housing market saw a significant rebound in May, with listings and sales both jumping well above April’s coronavirus-induced low point and in some cases coming close to the numbers seen in May of 2019. That’s according to the latest report from the Regional Multiple Listing Service.

“Considering the circumstances, new sales activity was very good,” Mike Lamb, a broker at Windermere Stellar in Vancouver, wrote in his own monthly report.

Clark County recently received a green light to move to Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” reopening plan, which allows for the resumption of full real estate activities. Real estate transactions were still allowed during Phase 1, but subject to strict limitations on in-person interaction.

“May showed a strong rebound with a 50 (percent) increase in the number of pending property sales over April’s pending sales,” Terry Wollam, managing broker at ReMax Equity Group in Vancouver, wrote in an email. “The pending sales also mirrored the same number of sales as May of 2019. The time it takes for a property to sell (market time) was one less day than May of last year, which is surprising given the current pandemic.”

New listings were reported at 971, a 43.9 percent increase over the 675 listed in April, but a 23.7 percent decrease from the 1,272 listings reported in May 2019.

Pending sales, at 892, rose 49.7 percent from April, but were 1.3 percent lower than the 596 offers accepted in May last year. Closed sales followed the same pattern, with 577 sales representing a 7.6 percent increase from the 536 reported in April, but a 27.4 percent year-over-year decline.

“The magnitude of the rebound in May may have been surprising, but the second half of April suggested it was coming,” Lamb wrote. “Furthermore, the fact that new sales activity normalized even while inventory was in such short supply was one more indicator of the strong the pent-up demand.”

The region’s inventory in months, an estimate of how long it would take to sell through all current listings, fell from 2.5 in April to 2.3 in May, matching the May 2019 number.

That figure might be slightly misleading, Wollam noted, because of the impact of the pandemic on new home construction. Inslee’s initial stay-at-home order halted all nonessential construction — including residential construction — until Phase 2, and newly-constructed homes account for a significant portion of Clark Count’s inventory.

“The total inventory of properties for sale is 1,304, but the true inventory of homes for buyers to purchase today is substantially less at 800 total homes due to them being under construction or not yet started,” Wollam wrote. “This provides an inventory of properties that at the current rate of sale would only take 1.4 months to sell through.”

The region’s average sale price increased from $412,800 in April to $418,300 in May, although the median sale price held essentially steady, moving from $385,000 in April to $384,900 in May. Both figures are up relative to last year, which saw an average price of $410,200 and a median of $375,000 in May.

Looking to the coming months, Wollam said the lack of options for buyers will likely drive up market prices, although there will be some relief now that the new home construction pipeline has resumed. Wollam predicted an increase in preowned homes on the market in the third quarter of the year, as well as an increase in pricing.

The Vancouver office of John L. Scott Real Estate released its own monthly report based on the office’s internal sales data. The Scott report included a breakdown of sales by price range, which showed significant shortages for houses priced at or below $500,000.

May pending sales tied or exceeded the number of new listings in all price categories below $500,000, according to Scott’s report, and the report estimated less than a month of supply in each price category below $500,000.


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