December 2020

CLARK COUNTY HOUSING

MARKET 

MONTHLY REPORT

UNPRECEDENTED MARKET

CONTINUES

You won’t read this in the paper.

The November RMLS stats are in. Let’s get started.

(….And if you know of someone who would appreciate this information, please feel free to forward this to them or send their email address to me and I will add them to the list. I never share  recipients with anyone so no reason to worry about privacy. Thank you.)

Inventory levels for November 2020 matched October levels, the lowest level in the history of recordkeeping at the RMLS. In fact, inventory levels are significantly lower than during the hay days before the 2007 crash. The lowest inventory level during that time was 1.5 in June 2005. So our current inventory levels in October and November were at 0.8. WOW. Almost half the inventory of June 2005. And this great market is never going to end, right? Well, that is why I write this newsletter so let’s talk about that.

Good or bad, the extent of our seller’s market is largely due to Covid. When Covid hit in February 2020, sellers became nervous about selling. Who could have predicted it. That seller nervousness has continued through the year. 

The listing graph below shows us that the number of active listings for November is about 33% of the active listings of November 2018 and about 40% of the active listings for November 2019. That is pretty low.

Combine this condition with the fact that buyer activity levels are about the same as this time last year, as shown in the graph below, creates a severe shortage of listings for buyers in Clark County, WA and an intensely competitive market for buyers. It is not unusual to hear about buyers writing 6+ offers before finally landing a home.

Buyers have about a third as many choices today as in 2018.

Despite almost ⅓ fewer homes for sale now than in 2018 and 2019, there are about the same number of buyers.

IS THIS A SELLER’S MARKET OR A BUYER’S MARKET?

This is likely the strongest seller’s market we have seen in the history of the RMLS. The level of inventory, 0.8, is a ratio of the number of active listings divided by the number of closed sales. So the fewer the active listings, the lower the ratio. In fact, this ratio is almost half of what we had in 2005, 1.5, when we had such a crazy housing market. During that time there were stories of buyers having a home built with minimum down and selling it at completion with a profit of $30-40,000.

HOW LONG WILL THIS SELLER’S MARKET LAST?

In my opinion, this seller’s market will last until the number of buyers declines or when sellers decide to sell again. 

Interest rates seem to be driving buyers today and we see no signals as yet that rates will begin rising. Since Covid is the driver of sellers not selling, it seems likely the vaccine will allow sellers more comfort to sell. Since the vaccine is due out to most of us by June or so, it seems likely this seller’s market will begin to weaken in mid-2021 as we all get the vaccine. 

As I see it, there is one additional factor that may affect the market. As a result of Covid, we are seeing our economy slow. From the 1st to the 2nd quarter of 2020 we saw the US Gross Domestic Product fall an annualized rate of 32%. (Wow) The economists predict the overall economy will fall around 4% for the 2020 year. (Now this is what I am reading but how you go from a 2nd quarter annualized rate of a 32% drop to just  4% drop for the year while the jobless rate is still so high? This has me confused. That 4% estimate was made in September. Perhaps they were assuming government subsidies or the Covid Relief Package would get approved before now.) If this Relief Package is approved shortly then this will support the economy so as to minimize these concerns.

DOES THIS MEAN THERE IS A HISTORICAL WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY?

It is likely sellers will never see an opportunity like this again.

 The 100 Year Pandemic Window.

Step right up and get your peak through the 100 year window.

It is kinda like the rare meteor showers except this event can mean money in your pocket.

 It is typical to see a strong seller’s market the first 3 months of most years. It has been occurring the last 10+ years and I have been reporting this condition nearly every year. But this beneficial seasonal period is amplified by the fact that Covid will continue to cause sellers to resist selling at least until the vaccine is out and largely applied. Since I do not have a crystal ball, I will hedge a bit and say that it is possible just knowing the vaccine is coming will move sellers to sell again but I am betting it will not happen until there is clearly a reduced risk from Covid. Right now that is predicted to occur around June 2021.

IF COVID IS PUSHING HOME VALUES UPWARD, WILL VALUES DROP QUICKLY ONCE COVID IS CONTROLLED?

Hmmm…. Well, that is a valid question. Here are my thoughts but clearly I do not know the answer. 

This is likely to happen only if the world economy or our national economy begins to really struggle without any government support. Then our current situation  could look like a setup but I do not yet see that happening. I believe the Relief Package will prevent this possibility and it seems the new party coming into office is determined to make the difficult decisions to prevent this. Certainly I will continue to look for the first clues of this and let you know when I see it. My goal is to be able to provide you with at least a few months notice. 

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