Robust housing market a sign of increasing economic health

  • Sat May 26th, 2018 1:30am
  • Life

Nailing It Down

By Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty

After many years of things not looking so bright, the housing market in Grays Harbor County has rebounded beautifully in the past couple of years, with signs it will continue to grow.

In fact, in the first quarter of this year, Grays Harbor ranked first out of 15 Western Washington counties for the average sale prices increase — with prices up a remarkable 27.5 percent from the first quarter of 2017.

It was also listed second of the 15 counties in the percentage increase in the number of homes sold compared with the year before – up 7.7 percent.

“This was big news for us,” said Tom Quigg, founder of the Aberdeen and Ocean Shores Windermere Real Estate offices.“In all the years I’ve been in real estate, we’ve never ranked so high in any category.”

The statistics come from what is known as the Gardner Report, written by the chief economist for Windermere Real Estate.

In addition, Quigg compiles a monthly report of the housing market in Grays Harbor County that breaks down activity in each area within the county.

And the latest news from that is not only were things looking good the first quarter (January through March), April was a promising month too.

In general, we’re seeing a more robust housing market in Grays Harbor than we were a few years back, and that’s a great indication that economic health continues to return to our area.

“The residential listing inventory across the county continues to improve, with the exception of a slight drop in the Aberdeen/Hoquiam market in April,” said Quigg.

While the increased inventory has caused the county’s average home price to drop somewhat over the past two months, still the number of sales is up nearly 31 percent from April 2017, with the average price up 10.7 percent from last year, he said.

Overall in the county, the average sales price for a house in April was $204,000 and the median sales price was $184,000. (The average price is determined by adding up the total of all sold and dividing by the number sold. The median price is found by lining up all the prices and finding the middle one.)

OCEAN SHORES/ NORTH BEACH

Since last April, houses have been moving on the north beaches. This market experienced a remarkable 55 percent increase in home sales during the past year. However, the average sale price is up just a little over 4 percent.

“The most logical explanation is that new home construction has increased a great deal, bringing new competition to the marketplace,’’ Quigg said.

During the first three months of 2018, 38 new home permits were issued in Ocean Shores and eight in Seabrook, with many more permits currently being processed in both communities.

The 3.7 months of inventory available means this area is considered a neutral market.

To determine how many houses in a certain area make a month’s worth of “inventory,” the number of active listings in the Northwest Multiple Listing Service is divided by the number of homes sold the prior month. For instance, if 100 homes are currently listed in a given area, and that area sold 40 homes last month, then the inventory for that area would be 2.5 months. In other words, it’s how long it would take to deplete the inventory at the current rate of sales.

In April, the average sales price in Ocean Shores/North Beach was $242,000, with the median price at $215,000.

ABERDEEN/ HOQUIAM

Considered a seller’s market right now, Aberdeen and Hoquiam has only 2.4 months of inventory currently available.

“Even with the tight inventory, the number of closed sales was 36 percent above April 2017, and the average home sale price was up 16.7 percent,” Quigg said.

The average sales price in the Aberdeen and Hoquiam area was $136,000, with the median price at $137,000.

MONTESANO/ELMA/ McCLEARY

The East County continues its trend of being a very strong seller’s market with the demand for houses there high. At the end of April only 1.6 months of inventory was available.

“This tight market has caused the average home sales price to increase steadily over the past year to $255,000 for the month of April,” Quigg said.

The median sales price in the Montesano, Elma and McCleary area was $240,000.

“I see two things happening in this area that combine for the high demand for houses,” said Quigg. “First, people who commute to West Olympia have discovered they can also live in East Grays Harbor, which is driving prices up. Secondly, people in Montesano, in particular, are content and don’t have any interest in selling.”

WESTPORT/GRAYLAND

On the south beaches, although closed sales in the Westport/Grayland area are down from the prior month, they are still up 16.7 percent from a year ago. Average prices have dropped over the past two months.

“With smaller markets like the South Beach, we often get broad swings like that,” Quigg said.

The average sales price in Westport and Grayland in April was $146,000, with the median price at $130,000.

While these statistics reflect just April, we’re encouraged by the first quarter of the year and the whole general trend we are seeing of a healthy market, new construction and people buying homes on the Harbor.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is executive director. This is a nonprofit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing for all residents of Grays Harbor County. For questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or buying, call 360-533-7828 or visit 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.