Friday, June 21, 2024

Clark County Zip Codes Tell Stories

Clark County has 20 residential zip codes of which 11 are located in Vancouver and two spread into other counties. The US census keeps track of the population in a variety of boundaries including zip codes, political districts, counties, cities, and school districts among others. We can learn a thing or two about the make up of our neighborhoods by the population totals and densities in these zip codes.

So here is a list of the 2023 US Census estimates for Clark County and her 20 zip codes.

  • 98660  13,146  Vancouver
  • 98661  49,910  Vancouver
  • 98662  37,064  Vancouver
  • 98663  15,365  Vancouver
  • 98664  23,995  Vancouver
  • 98665  27,947  Vancouver
  • 98682  66,821  Vancouver
  • 98683  31,504  Vancouver
  • 98684  36,931  Vancouver
  • 98685  30,534  Vancouver
  • 98686  20,158  Vancouver
  • 98601    2,952  Amboy
  • 98604  37,212  Battle Ground
  • 98606    9,528  Brush Prairie / Hockinson
  • 98607  34,877  Camas (includes a small piece of Vancouver)
  • 98629    9,783  La Center
  • 98642  25,005  Ridgefield
  • 98671  23,871  Washougal (includes parts of Skamania County)
  • 98674  15,679  Woodland (mostly Cowlitz County)
  • 98675    7,198  Yacolt
Map from USPS

Keep in mind that these zip codes often include people living outside of the cities in rural areas. Battle Ground has a population of about 22,000 people but her zip code more than 37,000. Think of all those people out in the countryside surrounding Battle Ground. The same is true for Ridgefield which only has about 10,000 people but her zip code has more than 25,000.

In the case of Vancouver her zip codes add up to more than 353,000 people when the city proper sits at about 200,000. The discrepancy shows the extent of Vancouver's urban sprawl outside of the city boundaries.

If you live in Clark County what do you think about the stats in your zip code?

Friday, May 31, 2024

Is it really as rainy as they say?

Washington State has a damp reputation for soggy weather. Often the local Chamber of Commerce will chime in about how we get less rain than most cities in the USA east of the Rockies. This is true and for the nation as a whole we really do not get much in the way of precipitation. Those people originating from a state west of the Rockies will find us much wetter than they are. 

But even when we compare our Western Washington cities to Northern California, we are not that much higher on rainfall than they are, particularly within 50 miles of the ocean. The real issue is that we tend to have a lot more cloudy days than most of the western US. We however are no worse off than states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York on the sunshine scale.

Anchorage, AK; Portland, OR; Buffalo, NY; Pittsburgh, PA; and Cleveland, OH round out the top five "gloomiest" cities in America in a climate survey done by Seattle and Spokane were 6th and 7th on that list.

So cloud cover is a thing and Washington gets allot of cloudy days. But often coastal areas in California are overlooked in the "gloomy" category despite having a heavy marine layer that tends to make for foggy and cool weather in the summertime. 

But what about actual rainfall? How rainy is it really. Typically rainfall is measured two ways by climatologists. Inches or Millimeters of rain measured in a rain gauge and number of days with measurable precipitation. When measuring actual rainfall volume we are lower than the national average, but when measured by number of days with rain, we are near the top. I created two lists below ranking Washington cities against other notable locales around the country for both rainfall and days of rain.

Here are the same four charts with a list of several cities from each region of the country. Each chart ranks the cities by a different metric starting with annual days of precipitation, then annual rainfall in inches, then the percentage of sunshine, then annual snowfall.

Here we rank near the bottom with 157 days on average with measurable precipitation. It should be noted that we get a lot of days with light drizzle that is just barely enough to register in a rain gauge.

Here we are right in the middle with our paltry 36.9 inches of annual precipitation. It should be noted that in fairness, the Portland International Airport is the official NWS reporting station and it is notably drier than the surrounding area. Our real precipitation is between 40-50 inches depending on location.

Sunny days are hard to find in the winter months and it takes a toll on our annual numbers. But sunshine is in abundance from mid June through mid September. Summertime is sunny almost every day and little to no rain at all.

Snowfall is another category we do well in unless you like snow. Our 6.5 inches a year average is pretty tame even for those who hate the snow. 

When I look at the locations people are moving to I can't help but notice our weather is better than a lot of them overall. South Carolina and Tennessee are popular spots but those places have hot and sticky summers. Tennessee doesn't get quite a much snow as we do but they get three shower a day humidity in the summer. The Carolinas have those pesky hurricanes.

So in closing, yes it is as rainy as they say but not as rainy as you think.

Friday, May 24, 2024

How to move up in this market

Many people that bought smaller starter homes a few years ago when rates were in the 3-5% range would love to make a move up, but the higher interest rates are scaring them off. For some staying put makes sense, but many could be in a position to move up to a larger home despite the higher rates.

Starter homes are selling well right now, and move up homes are not doing as well. The price difference between a 20 year old 1400 foot 3 bed two bath and a 2200 foot 4 bed 2.5 bath home is less than $100,000 in the current market.

The thing holding many potential move up sellers back is the higher interest rate they will need to pay on the new house. When the market was hot and fueled by low interest rates, larger mid level homes were a lot more expensive relative to the starter homes. But now the higher rates have pinched the mid-market and the gap between them is pretty small. 

For buyers who have improved their finances over the last 5-8 years and have the benefit of a large pool of equity in their current home could make the move now rather than waiting. These buyers may be enjoying a nice low payment say $1800 and the new payment even with a large down payment on the move up house would likely be closer to $3000. But if they wait until rates drop again, that will drive pressure to the move up market and we will see a disproportionate price growth int he mid-level market. The entry level market has bloated prices due to the higher rates making them more desirable. Fewer people can afford the larger homes at these modern rates so those homes are effectively "on sale." 

The benefit to moving now is that your basis in the new house will be lower and if rates come down, a refinance could lower the payment later. Waiting until later IF rates come down could end up being more expensive as the savings in interest could be gobbled up my the increase in prices. People in an FHA loan paying 0.55 monthly mortgage insurance will be able to buy the new house with a conventional loan and no MI using the sizable equity in their current home.

It is worth doing analysis and for some it may be surprising to find out that a move up now might be better than waiting. As I mentioned above however, for some waiting could actually be better. every situation is a little different and the numbers play out differently as well.

Contact Rod or your trusted agent for information for your situation.