January market report for Clark County

Demand from 2019 appears to be continuing into January; 2020 market should continue to be good

Line graph
Mike Lamb
MIKE LAMB Windermere Stellar, Vancouver

The Clark County real estate market closed 2019 having had one of its best second halves in recent memory, and a very good year overall. You could see that reflected in the 530 new pending residential sales submitted to RMLS, up 9.7% from December 2018, up 7.1% from a good December 2017 and up 5.6% from a very good December 2016. In fact, in terms of new sales activity this was even up 3.5% from December 2005, making it much better than any December in more than 20 years. As a result, December ended the year with a backlog of 967 pending sales waiting to close. Interestingly, there were also 967 pending sales waiting to close at the end of December 2019. At the rate sales closed in December that represents a backlog of 1.22 months of closings.

December 2019 was also a really good month for closings. Reflecting that were the 690 new closed residential sales reported to RMLS, up 1.3% from November. More impressively, that was up 32.2% from December 2018 and up 9.4% from December 2017, but down 5.4% from December 2016, which was the best December for closings in recent memory. In fact, this December’s closed sales were down just 1.1% from December 2005. Furthermore, at the end of 2019 there had been 9,522 solds year to date reported to RMLS, up 2.1% from 2018. Still, solds year to date were down 1.2% from 2017, and down 2.0% from 2016, making this the third best year for total sales since 2005. And total sales were much better than in any other year between 2005 and 2015, although they were still down 7.4% from the 2005 record.

Listing activity slowed in December, which was typical for the season. Reflecting that were the 420 new residential listings submitted to RMLS, down 34.5% from November, but up 6.6% from December 2018 and better than in any other December since 2015. Still, the decline in new listing activity, along with strong new sales activity, caused active listings to fall to 1,818 at the end of December. That was down 9.0% from November, and down 13.2% from December 2018, but up 13.8% from December 2017, and up 6.6% from December 2016. In fact, there was less inventory at the end of December than in any other year from 2015 going back at least 20 years. More significantly, there were just 0.79 new residential listings for each new pending residential sale. And based on the number of closed residential sales in December, there were just 1.29 months of standing residential inventory available.

Despite the continued strong sales activity average prices were up just modestly in December. For example, average sale price-all MLS was $403,852, up just 2.7% from December 2018, and up 11.9% from December 2017. Median sale price-residential was $375,000, down 2.5% from November, but up 7.1% from December 2018, and up 12.4% from December 2017. That was also up 44.2% from the previous high in December 2007, and up 113.1% from the December 2011 low during the downturn. And the average residential sale price was $414,000, down 0.5% from November, but up 6.5% from December 2018, and up 11.3% from December 2017.

The very good 2019 market was the result of the confluence of two essential factors. One was strong demand, and the other was the larger inventory available in the first half of the year. But by the end of December the strong sales activity in the second half had reduced the number of available listings to levels that will begin to constrain sales, unless listing activity increases significantly. That is especially important since the strong demand appears to be continuing into January. Fortunately, listing activity typically spools up in the first quarter, and if it does the 2020 market should also be very good.

Mike Lamb is a broker at Windermere Stellar in Vancouver. He can be reached at mike@mikelamb.info.