Clark County’s housing market continued to rebound in June from an initial drop in activity at the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, with the strongest gains visible in the sales numbers. That’s according to the latest report from the Regional Multiple Listing Service.
New listings didn’t keep pace, leading to a sharp drop in the Southwest Washington region’s inventory in months — a standing inventory measurement that estimates how long it would take to sell through the existing catalog of listings.
“Clearly, recovery in this market is going to depend on whether we have inventory,” Mike Lamb, a broker at Windermere Stellar in Vancouver, wrote in his own monthly report.
There were 979 new listings in June, a 0.8 percent increase from the 971 listed in May and an 11.2 percent drop from the 1,102 listed in June 2019.
The inventory in months — which had been holding between 2.1 and 2.4 so far this year — dropped from 2.3 in May to 1.6 in June, the biggest single-month shift since at least the start of 2018. Clark County ended June with 1,149 active listings, compared with 1,922 in June 2019 and 1,654 in June 2018.
Terry Wollam, managing broker at ReMax Equity Group in Vancouver, said “1.6 months in inventory is equal to the lowest inventory levels we have seen in the last three years.”
Pending sales fared much better at 1,036, a 16.1 percent increase from the 892 offers in May and a 17.6 percent increase from the 881 offers in June 2019. Closed sales were a mixed bag with 724 reported — a 25.5 percent jump from the 577 closings in May, but a 9 percent drop from the 796 in June 2019.
The backlog of pending sales waiting to close is currently higher than at any point since 2016, according to Lamb.
“A backlog that large ensures that closing activity will continue to normalize for the next two or three months,” he wrote.
Compared with the first half of 2019, new listings for 2020 are down 15.8 percent, pending sales are down 4.2 percent and closed sales are down 9.7 percent.
Sale prices rose in June, with the average price rising from $418,300 in May to $437,100 in June, and the median sale price rising from $384,900 in May to $398,900 in June. Wollam and Lamb both attributed the rise in part to the lower inventory levels.
“With the strong demand and lack of inventory, it was no surprise that average prices climbed dramatically in June,” Lamb wrote.
Wollam said the lack of new listings was due in part to the impact of the pandemic on new home construction, which accounts for about 35 percent of Southwest Washington’s total inventory. Washington’s initial stay-at-home order halted all construction for about six weeks earlier this year, disrupting the pace of many ongoing and planned projects.
The impacts of the new construction inventory crunch are likely to persist in the coming months and even into next year, he said, likely resulting in pressure that drives up real estate prices.
“(Limited development) will potentially cause appreciation for home values in 2021 comparable to what was seen in 2018 and earlier when we saw 10 (percent) and higher property price increases,” he wrote.
The local office of John L. Scott real estate released a monthly report based on its own sales data, with a breakdown of Clark County sales and inventory by price range.
Consistent with recent months, the breakdown showed the largest inventory shortages among homes priced below $500,000, with only 0.3 month of standing inventory in the $250,000-$300,000 range, 0.8 month in the under-$250,000 range and 0.5 month in the $350,000-$500,000 range. June pending sales exceeding new listings in all three price categories.
Even homes priced at up to $1 million showed more of a shortage than usual, with remaining inventory estimated at 1.3 months in the $500,000-$750,000 range and 1.5 months in the $750,000-$1 million range. For comparison, the $500,000-$750,000 range had an estimated 1.7 months in May and 2.2 months in April, and the $750,000-$1 million range had an estimated 2.8 months in May and 7.9 months in April.
“With overall unsold inventory down 53 percent compared to the same time last year, each new listing is a welcome sight for buyers,” chairman J. Lennox Scott wrote in the report.