Coldwell Banker Bain, a leading provider of real estate brokerage services throughout the Pacific Northwest and a market leader in home sales in 2019,* releases its second-quarter 2020 market report providing a variety of statistics for the sale of homes in neighborhoods and counties in SW Washington and Oregon, as well as for segments including luxury and condos. This report reflects activity between April 1 and June 30, 2020.*
Reflecting on the overall market, Ward Spears, Oregon regional manager for Coldwell Banker Bain, said, “On January 1, 2020 it would have been impossible to predict the behavior of the real estate market in the second quarter of 2020. In March, the beginning of the quarter, thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak, we saw a massive slowdown in real estate transactions, comparable to the time immediately after September 11, 2001. There was also a wave of cancellations in both listings and sales.
However, over the following weeks, the market gradually staged a recovery including the month of June when the number of units sold were only 1.7 percent less than in June 2019 and the market showed only 1.5 months of inventory, a record low. In the month of June, closed sales were 38 percent higher than they were in May as home buyers came back into the market in droves. Now with historically low borrowing rates, buyers are continuing to compete for a smaller number of available homes but with a certain amount of caution at the same time.
The statement that ‘no one knows what the future holds’ has never been truer than in 2020 so far. The first half of the year has been a time of economic distress — at the same time coupled with a sellers’ real estate market. Sellers who are able to mitigate their risk of infection through reasonable showing protocols due to the involvement of a good broker should feel comfortable with changing their living situation through selling and buying a home in the event they choose to.”
Principal and managing brokers in specific markets had the following observations:
Brandon Fairbanks, principal managing broker of Coldwell Banker Bain of Bend, said, “The Central Oregon housing market is fascinating right now to say the least. So many factors at play. In a nutshell, inventory of homes is at record lows, almost 50 percent less than this time last year. All the while, I see a flood of people leaving the big cities and repopulating rural America; a trend I believe will continue.
Add the low-interest rate environment, and you have a perfect storm for prices to rise. How much prices will rise in Central Oregon is hard to predict, but it would not surprise me to see double-digit appreciation in 2020 and possibly 2021. We are experiencing multiple offers on homes over $1 million now, and many of these offers are cash.
Our current pending sales, representing homes under contract, are actually higher than this time last year despite the low inventory. In fact, our Bend office currently has 17 percent more homes under contract in June compared to this time last year.”
Said David Sly, principal managing broker of Coldwell Banker Bain of Portland Uptown, “Looking back at the second quarter, we saw the resilience of a real estate industry, which as an essential service, had to find a way to overcome the obstacles placed upon us all. Real estate professionals figured out how to operate within the guidelines, creating new ways of doing business, and are still working on emerging ideas. Technology has allowed us to keep the market moving forward for both consumers and brokers alike — some examples of this would be the adoption of virtual open houses, video client interactions and, most recently, the State of Oregon’s passing of HB 4212A, allowing remote online notarization.
However, we still have some work to do to get back to the levels of activity we are used to. Our low inventory, currently below 1.6 months, coupled with the pent-up buyer demand, has maintained a strong sellers’ market in Portland. We still have many unknowns that will affect our market in the ensuing months. We know the desire to be in one’s home is stronger than ever, given trends in remote working practices for many employers.”
SW Washington — Vancouver, and Longview/Clark and Cowlitz Counties
“At the end of the first-quarter 2020, business had been altered by COVID-19… that is a fact,” said David Knode, principal managing broker of Coldwell Banker Bain of Vancouver East. “The closed transactions for that quarter mostly came together before the Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, issued the Stay Home, Stay Safe order. The real story will be how business will fare in the second, third and fourth quarters of the year. The second quarter of 2020 has been an interesting ride. Most brokers are reporting being busier than they have been in quite some time. Median sales prices in both Cowlitz and Clark Counties rose 4.9 percent and 7 percent respectively. However, the number of closed sales and new listings are down in both counties.
Additionally, the number of days a house is on the market before receiving an acceptable offer is down. So, on one hand we have an indicator rising while the other is falling, but they do go hand-in-hand. I feel like a broken record; the jump in median prices and the lower days on the market are a direct effect of lower inventory. Buyers are still buying due to the relative affordability in the SW Washington market. The general feeling is that the market is percolating quite nicely, though not quite at the same level that we had last year.”
*Information and statistics derived from the Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS) each quarter. Statistics not compiled or published by the Regional Multiple Listing Service.