Friday, March 28, 2014

Long term land prices could get hot.

It has been an amazing half-decade these last five years. After the "crash" it seemed as though Clark County, WA had a lifetime supply of ready to build lots owned by a variety of investment and banking groups. Yet suddenly we find our selves in a bit of a land crunch. Developers are trying to find new build able parcels and are finding that market increasingly tight.

The politics in the area have long been running towards sustainable, non-urban sprawl. It has become necessary for builders to look at urban infill projects and higher densities. The further belabor the issue, the State has created new requirements for storm water mitigation on new subdivisions. All of this leads to higher land prices and greater expense passed on to the buyer of new homes.

Those buyers wishing to take advantage of low interest rates on a brand new home should step up the pace as prices will likely rise faster on new construction than resales. That said, the resale market will benefit long term from increased building costs. The more expensive new homes become the more people will turn to resale property to meet their needs. Furthermore, urban infill on small lots is not for everyone and many families will choose and older home on a big 10,000 foot lot over a newer homes stuffed into a neighborhood like anchovies in a can, on 4,000 foot lots.

The real estate market is in a dynamic flux moment, hey that sounds really cool. What I mean is that we are on the precipice of a shift in they way our community will grow. Clark County has hung on to suburbia and rural development but alas, the time is near that builders will need to move towards a more urban profile in their projects. We have already seen this paradigm shift over the last decade, particularly in Vancouver and that will spill over to much of the county as time marches on.

To the left is the current Urban Growth Boundary map for Clark County. There are still some areas of nice flat build able land, but pickens' are getting slim and that has the building community a little edgy.

In the end build able land will become increasingly expensive and builders will either have to build more dense or more expensive. Any opportunity that a buyer has to acquire property now will likely be money well invested for the future. Interest rates remain low and prices, although on the rise are still below the levels of 2007. This adds up to a great value proposition.

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