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

Conflicting inventory constraints impact real estate market


August 2, 2018

According to analysis from the assessor’s office and local realtors, there is a market for affordable housing in Wahkiakum County. Unfortunately, the inventory does not currently reflect the demand. Higher priced properties are available, but savvy buyers looking for a retirement home may have realized they can find a better value somewhere else.

According to Jon Keevy, a Realtor at Lower Columbia Realty, there were six homes under $300,000 for sale in June, and only two under $200,000.

“That really narrows the market for the locals, especially the local kids who are just trying to get started,” Keevy said. “Elevated property values are pricing the average person out of the market. My concern is that there is not enough affordable housing.”

“We are kind of in a Glengate market,” Wahkiakum County Assessor Bill Coons said in late May. “Things pop up in Glengate, they sell. Why? Because they are affordable, relatively speaking.”

[Glengate is a small development in Cathlamet.--ed.]

At the same time, Wahkiakum County Chief Deputy Assessor Michael Dahle will tell you that this is only half the story.

“The inventory is lower, and what is there is priced much higher, so it’s just not moving,” Dahle said. “From my standpoint, we have somewhat of a split market. You have the local person who is looking for a place to live, and then you have a fair number of retirement people coming in. They are selling their homes in a different, hotter market, so they are coming in with funds to use to buy a home.

"That part of the market, the retirement home, which is really nice, with a view or waterfront—what I call premium property—that part of the market is competing against other markets. Those people can buy in Bend, or in Yakima, or Wenatchee. So if that premium retirement home gets priced really high here—even though we don’t have a lot of selection—buyers can decide to go to Wenatchee instead. Those houses have to compete, but it is market you don’t readily see here.”

“It’s a sellers market,” Coons said. “But why? We’re inventory constrained. There aren’t a lot of people selling their homes. But the buyers aren’t ready to fork over whatever, for a lot of the reasons that Michael pointed out. For $500,000 that gets me a heck of a place somewhere else.”

“This market could get into balance by more people listing their homes at reasonable prices,” Coons said. “It’s basic supply and demand.”


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