Housing market cools slightly, but sales remain high and inventory low – Luke Hammill, Oregonian (oregonlive.com)
After a record-setting July, the local real estate market cooled slightly last month but continued the trend of year-over-year growth, according to the latest numbers from the Regional Multiple Listing Service.
In August, 3,098 homes closed in the Portland area, a 19.8 percent year-over-year increase — but still a 10.3 percent drop from the July number.
The 3,347 pending sales last month reflected the region’s strongest August total since 2005, the report noted.
Inventory rose slightly, from 1.7 months in July to 1.9 months. The figure, which estimates the amount of time it would take for all current homes on the market to sell at the current pace, remained lower than in August of 2013 and 2014, when it was 3 months or more.
Lennox Scott, chairman and chief executive at John L. Scott Real Estate, said on the phone that “if you think the inventory’s tight right now…over the winter, it gets even more scarce.”
“There’s just not a big backlog of homes available,” Scott said. “And normally, we build up a little inventory during the later summer to take us through the winter time. But this year, we’re virtually sold out.”
The average sale price through August of this year was $353,200, a 6.2 percent increase over the same period of time in 2014. The median sale price rose 7 percent, from $285,000 to $305,000.
Israel Hill, a managing broker in John L. Scott’s Northeast Portland office, said he expects “no let-up in the backlog of buyers.”
“This will continue to keep us at an extremely low level of inventory well into next year and we see no relief in the current sellers’ market in close-in neighborhoods,” Hill said.
Inventory bottomed out in June at 1.6 months, the lowest total since June 2005, when the figure reached 1.5 months, according to Regional Multiple Listing Service data. Inventory peaked at 19.2 months in January of 2009, at the height of the subprime mortgage crisis.
Portland broker Billy Grippo, of Windermere Real Estate, agreed that the market will likely get even tighter as winter approaches.
“I’m certainly not hoping for interest rates to go up,” Grippo said. “That would cause a slower market.”
Another broker, though, suspects the market may loosen up after all. Leslie Jones, of Re/Max Equity Group, noted that there is often “a certain number of [buyers] who just stop if they didn’t get it done during the summer.”
“I kind of love the fall market,” Jones said. “Because I find it to be just the people who are serious.” Jones predicted “strong numbers for September and October in terms of pending sales.”
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