Clark County sees influx of homebuyers, fewer sellers

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The housing market in Clark County is soaring for those selling their homes, but buyers are finding it difficult to come across inventory at an affordable price.

Clark County saw a 29.1 percent increase in closed sales for homes from 2020 to 2021, according to a Regional Multiple Listing Service market report.

Kelly Muscarella, managing broker for KM Homes LLC/Keller Williams said she attributes the market conditions to the pandemic. Because people spent more time at home, some realized they weren’t happy in their house or their location, resulting in more homebuyers.

“It’s not typical at all,” Muscarella said. “I’ve been doing this for 21 years and I’ve never seen a market like this. It’s great for sellers.”

In the last couple of months, every time Muscarella lists a house for sale within a reasonable price range, she receives five to 10 offers within four to five days, she said.

Most buyers in this market will write between six to 10 offers before “getting lucky” enough to have their offer selected, Muscarella said.

“It’s a great time to be a seller, but if you’re trying to replace what you’re selling, that’s where you run into problems,” she said.

And it’s not expected to slow down, Muscarella said.

The pandemic caused interest rates for mortgages to dip, making it cheaper to own a home than to rent in some cases, she said.

Julie Baldino, a Front Door Realty agent, works with clients from around Clark County and Portland.

When Baldino started in real estate 20 years ago, the interest rate for homes ranged from 5 to 6 percent. Now, the rates can be as low as 3 percent.

For May 2021 in the Battle Ground area, there were 56 active listings and 84 new listings. There were 69 pending sales and 41 closed sales, according to the RMLS market report.

The sale price averaged $471,500. Meanwhile, the average sale price for Ridgefield was $551,300 in May 2021.

Ridgefield saw a 62.5 percent increase in home purchases from 2020 to 2021. Battle Ground increased home sales by 7.2 percent, according to the report.

“Because of the lack in affordability for Vancouver, people are looking in the outskirts for better-priced homes,” Baldino said.

In Clark County, there were 4,750 new listings for 2021 so far, 4,320 pending sales and 3,705 closed sales, stated the report. The average home was purchased for $495,800 compared to $419,400 in 2020.

“There are actually twice as many homes in escrow right now as two years ago, so that means we just have too many buyers, which is creating the shortage of inventory,” Muscarella wrote in an email.

Listings aren’t available for long. In May 2021, the average house sat on the market for 18 days in Clark County compared to the average of 48 days last May, stated the report.

Those hoping to purchase a newly-constructed home face challenges as well, Muscarella said.

If a person wanted a house built two years ago by one of the largest homebuilders in the state, New Tradition Homes, it would have been completed in six months. Currently, it takes nine to 10 months, she said.

“Demand is high on builders,” Muscarella said. “They can’t move as fast as they want to go.”

When building materials increase in price, some builders require the buyers to take on any additional costs, she said. A house might be two months into construction when the buyers receive a notification that the total price will increase by $20,000.

Most homebuyers don’t have the option to back out of the deal if price increases occur because then they would lose their earnest money, she said.

In Ridgefield, a housing developer received special permission to close on the sale of new homes without insulated garage doors because the pandemic caused a delay in materials, Muscarella said.

“If you drive up to this housing development, you’ll see two or three of these homes with plywood for garage doors right now,” she said.

Baldino said first-time buyers are having a difficult time purchasing a home because of low inventory and competition with multiple offers. She advises them to be persistent in their search.

“Our office has clients that we have shown 50 houses to and written 20 offers for,” she said. “They do end up getting a house. It’s just important to be flexible and to know that the first house you buy isn’t necessarily going to be the house you live in forever.”

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