The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

County's real estate market tightens up

 

April 27, 2017



It’s still early, but as of last Monday, there were only 22 homes available for sale at real estate offices in Wahkiakum County, according to Kay Cochran of Lower Columbia Realty.

Last year, Wahkiakum County realtors sold 65 residential properties.

“Last year was great,” Bill Wilkins of Windermere Realty wrote in an email on Tuesday. “It started early and stayed busy all through the year. We anticipated this year to be even busier but it has not started out that way. As in most cities in the Northwest, the inventory is at about 40 percent of usual.”

Wilkins blames the slow start on the weather.

“People want to get the houses in order and looking good. No one wants to go out and paint or do yard work in all of this rain,” Wilkins wrote. “Another factor with buyers is all the rain again. This time though I think we have slowed due to the aquifers filling in California. 60 percent of my out of town inquiries came from California last year. Everyone down south thought they were running out of water and they were. No one could have imagined just one year could make such a difference. Now all of those people, trying to leave before water was so short it affected property value, have reevaluated.”

Though there are currently few properties available in Wahkiakum County, there seems to be a demand, as anyone on Facebook can see when someone mentions selling a house or a rental that will soon be available.

“We’ve been finding that because of the limited inventory, people are finding their own houses sometimes by word of mouth or knocking on doors,” Wahkiakum County Assessor Bill Coons said.

“Buyers are frustrated right now because they can’t find what they want,” Cochran said. “This is an area that people really like. When they do find something, they are quick to jump on it. If a property is listed at a decent price, it will sell quickly.”

And sometimes, Cochran pointed out, there are multiple offers.

“We haven’t seen it much here,” she said, “but it gets to be really stressful. How high will they go?”

Cochran believes that some residents are waiting to see what will happen with the market. Others worry because they want to remain in the community. If they sell their home, where will they move if there is no inventory? If they downsize, will they pay more for a smaller house than they received for the larger home they’ve just sold?

According to Wahkiakum County Chief Deputy Assessor Michael Dahle, the average price of residential properties has gradually increased over the last four years. The average home price in 2012 was $164,470. In 2016, it was nearly $244,000.

“That’s a scary 50 percent increase,” Coons said.

However, it still depends on the quality of the home. Prices for premium homes are going up at a faster rate than other lesser quality properties, like manufactured homes.

When the need is so great, and when residential homes are not available, buyers will sometimes purchase land and hire contractors to build their own home. According to Darlene Modrzejowski in the Building and Planning office, they issued 14 permits for single family homes last year.

And contractors are not building homes to sell, Cochran said.

“Land usually will lag,” Dahle said. “Improved properties with buildings sell first. As those go up, it brings up the price of the land too, especially in this market when we have so few listings, options become limited. When they can’t find a home, they decide to buy land and build.”

But as Dahle went on to say, most people move here to retire. They just want to move here. They don’t want to renovate and they don’t want to build.

They are also looking for homes with large garages to house their motorhomes, said Cochran.

While the prices of sales have gone up, so have the number of sales. In 2012, there were 32 market sales or residential homes. In 2016, there were 67.

With only 22 houses on the market, realtors are still a long way from reaching that number this year, but if the trend continues, they may beat it.

 

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