From mountains to the breathtaking coastline, the Pacific Northwest is truly one of the most beautiful places in the country. Clark County’s real estate market has remained steady this year and continues to draw people looking for a close-knit community to live and work in.
Vancouver was recently ranked as one of the top places in the country to retire in, and over the years, it has been featured in other “Top 10” lists. Because Clark County is a desirable place to settle down in, real estate professionals are finding themselves working hard to keep up with the demand.
To understand the real estate market as a whole, it’s helpful first to look at the smaller picture.
“The real estate market is really a series of small markets – for example, location, age of the home and price range,” said Nancy Johns, managing broker through Windermere Stellar Real Estate. “Because of this, it makes it difficult for the public to get a good sense of things without having their real estate professional do some digging. General articles about ‘the market’ can be quite misleading. All that said, within reason, the market now is a seller’s market, with inventory low. Good homes that are priced right can sell quickly. This has been true all year and seems to be something that will take a while to change. This can be a challenge to folks who are trying to step from one home to another.”
According Rick Jenkins, also a managing broker with Windermere Stellar Real Estate, Clark County remains one of the fastest-moving and appreciating markets in the country.
“The market in Clark County is very much like it was last year – extremely low inventory and appreciating,” Jenkins said. “Appreciation over the last year is between 10 to 11 percent and the average sales price rose from $325k to $360k. The seasonal market trends were consistent again this year with inventory growing in the new year. It was and remains a strong seller’s market in the under 500k sector.”
Johns said that nationally, Clark County is considered an affordable market.
“(The) San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle metro area, even Portland, (they) have higher median prices,” Johns said. “Of course, there are other markets, for example, in the Midwest that are more affordable, but the question has to be asked in the context of job opportunities.”
Johns explained that most economists are clear that we aren’t headed for a downturn like what we experienced in 2008. Economists generally support this by reminding people that the market demand is not as speculative as it was in that time.
As far as the continued future of Clark County real estate goes, Jenkins and Johns both agree that inventory will continue to be an issue as 2018 approaches, likely for a number of reasons.
“Inventory would traditionally come from sellers relocating for work, those that are downsizing/retiring, and new construction,” Jenkins said. “As more and more people do not need to physically move to find work, we see less movement among that segment of the market. In addition, Baby Boomers are working longer and not following the traditional model of ‘retire and downsize’ to a warmer climate. New construction would also typically fill the demand for housing, but this is being hindered by a supply of land and regulation, at least as far as affordability is concerned. There is no simple fix to the supply problem, but it is evident that Southwest Washington and the surrounding markets will deal with low inventory for some time.”
For homeowners that are looking to sell their home, the market proves to be hot and heading into next year, sellers can likely expect to remain in the driver’s seat. For first-time home buyers, or other people looking to venture into the arena of buying a home, real estate experts advise to be prepared for some competition when it comes to getting the home you want.
“We live in such a beautiful and wonderful area that it cannot come as a surprise that people want to move here and will,” Jenkins said. “Consult with your favorite full-time Realtor. If you don’t have one, find one. Everybody has different needs and goals. Find a professional that can listen, answer questions and keep you up to date.”
Johns agreed that getting educated by an experienced Realtor is the key to success in today’s market. Buying and selling a home can be confusing and there are many details involved that can often be overwhelming for people not familiar with the process.
“Most professionals will be happy to talk about the market and let folks move at their own pace,” Johns said. “The internet has lots of info, but it often isn’t local and can have a skewed perspective. Find someone you trust and get acquainted. They will help you determine the alternatives you might want to pursue.”