Friday, May 17, 2024

Clark County Median Home Price Eclipses Multnomah

Recent trends have the median home price in Clark County about 7-10% higher than Multnomah County. Portland proper still edges out Vancouver proper with slightly higher home values. Washington County continues to lead the region as the most expensive among the four urban counties making up the metro area.

If Portland doesn't stop the bleeding Vancouver will pass it up as we are attracting growth and Portland has been shedding people faster than new arrivals for the last several years. Vancouver really needs to keep a sharp eye on the social woes of Portland that seem to be finding their way over here. A large piece of the attraction Vancouver has is most of the city negatives happening in Portland have been mostly absent in Vancouver. Some of that is starting change a bit. City leaders are often too concerned about their public image or what some extremist group thinks to make the best choices for the city. This has happened in Portland over the last ten years and we can all see how that worked out for them in RipCity.

We may need to make some ballot box changes this November.

Meanwhile Clark County is still the hot spot in the metro area for real estate and that is at least a good thing.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Market Activity is Healthy

Chart from RMLS
Over the last few years we have had a very strong seller's market. Inventory levels were so tight in 2022 that supply was listed in days rather than months. In 2023 we saw inventory levels slowly creep up. Last month the MLS showed us at 2.5 months of inventory. This is a still a seller's market but new listings are steadily outpacing new pending sales. 

We should see resale inventory numbers continue to increase as the summer approached and progresses. A market with 4 months of inventory is healthy for both buyers and sellers. For sellers they control how fast or slow their home sells through pricing. As inventory increases sellers make the decision to either hold out for the ideal buyer that wants to pay a premium for their home, or to come in competitive and get in contract quickly. This is actually normal behavior in any market, but it becomes critical as we move towards inventory neutrality at 5-6 months.

For buyers they can now decide to hold out for the perfect house and pay a premium or to maybe make a few concessions in order to capitalize on a seller's desire to sell quickly. Here relative bargains can be found. A seller that wants to sell fast, will work with a buyer to gt the deal done.

I have always liked markets in the neutral range where neither buyers nor sellers hold an advantage. This is where true negotiations can happen and both parties tend to feel like they got what they wanted. 

As for buyers they should be prepared to have at least 3.5% down and an enough income to keep the house payment less than 40% of monthly gross income. Also total debt to income should not exceed 50%. Now credit score and financial strength allow these numbers to be somewhat fluid, weaker borrowers will need to drop that payment to 30% and the debt to income down to 40%. Super strong borrowers may be able to creep those numbers up a tad. Talk to a professional mortgage agent to find out where you stand before making any decisions.

Keep in mind that one of the advantages to owning real estate using a fixed rate loan, is your payment remains constant throughout the term of the loan. As rents increase and wages increase your payment begins to feel smaller and smaller. 

In my personal scenario, my house payment is now less than half what my house would rent for. Get in early while you are young and within ten years there is a very high chance you will be in my position with a low mortgage payment. It won't be easy and you may have some lifestyle changes, but your financial position will get stronger.

If you have really strong income, try to resist buying too much house. Start out with something you can afford even if you loses some income. That is not always possible in a high value market like SW Washington, but if possible spend less than the bank says you can. 

It should be a good summer for local real estate.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Looks like Spring will Perk up the Market

Both buyers and sellers seem to be coming around a bit. We are seeing a nice Spring bump with new listings popping up on the MLS. Buyers also seem to be getting excited as well. I do not foresee any crazy rampage of buying but Clark County might be able to see 500-600 closings a month this summer which is pretty decent.

New home builders seem to be dialing back on larger developments. New Homes are hard to build at or below the local median and current rates have cut the number of eligible buyers. Fewer new homes competing with resale homes will help sellers with a softer landing on price should we see a resurgence in inventory levels.

According to the latest news reports the NAR's settlement offer is likely to be approved and will create some changes in the disclosures as well as changes in the way property is listed.  Buyers may find it a little more difficult than before but should be prepared for a new approach when working with an agent. 

It remains important for buyers to be represented by a professional agent that will negotiate on their behalf and separate from the seller's interests. Buyers will have to sign an agency agreement before an agent can show them property. Keep in mind this is all going to be mandated by law and according to the courts it is an effort to protect buyers.

Contact your trusted agent for more details on these upcoming legal changes in the real estate industry.