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More homes enter the market in Cowlitz County but demand remains high

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Housing Market

A "For Sale" sign swings in the wind at a home in Longview. 

The number of homes for sale in Cowlitz County is on the upswing, though local Realtors say it won’t be enough to cool off the market.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service released its monthly Washington housing market report Thursday. Northwest MLS is a nonprofit organization of real estate firms that collect data from thousands of brokers across 26 Washington counties.

According to the Northwest MLS report, the number of new home listings in Cowlitz County rose from 95 in January to 167 listings in March. Last month also had more home listings than in March 2021, a positive sign as listings typically increase over the course of spring.

The trend is backed up by data from local realty companies. Pacific Northwest Realty Group had 24 new listings for homes in Cowlitz County during the first week of January. The first week of April the firm had 65 new listings. Windermere Real Estate reported a similar increase in the number of single-family homes listed through its site.

Mark Scroggins, a Realtor for Coldwell Banker Bain with decades of experience in Southwest Washington, said the increase in listings is not enough to balance out the market. Cowlitz County has 0.67 of housing inventory, a measure of how long it would take to sell every home currently being listed.

“I always ask people when they’re ready to list to have an exit plan. Going out into the market is going to be difficult for them too. They’re in the same boat,” Scroggins said.

Dick Beeson, a managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest Brokers, told Northwest MLS having several months of housing inventory was likely “a relic of times gone by.”

“We will not see such numbers of homes for sale for possibly a generation or more,” Beeson said in the group’s March report.

Cowlitz County joins many counties along the I-5 corridor that have seen a jump in active listings, a trend highlighted by the Northwest MLS report. Active listings rose by more than 40% in Cowlitz, Lewis, Snohomish and Thurston counties over the last two months.

Scroggins said people looking to buy homes should work with a reputable lender and be prepared to offer more than the listed price in order to compete.

Mortgage rates rise

Another trend that could start shaping the local market is the rise in mortgage rates. Nationwide, mortgage rates are at 5% for the first time since November 2018.

Jerry Stinger, a RE/MAX real estate agent based out of Longview, said he is keeping an eye on mortgage rates as a potential force slowing down demand for homebuyers.

“I think we could start seeing more unique ways for people to finance, things we haven’t seen in a while like adjustable-rate mortgages,” Stinger said.

The Northwest MLS report says the rise in mortgage rates and interest rates has not yet had an impact on the Washington market.

So far, home prices in Cowlitz County have seen little impact from the rest of the market adjustments. Average sale prices increased 3.3% between March 2021 and March 2022. According to the Northwest MLS report, this makes Cowlitz County one of the few counties in Washington where prices rose by less than 10% over the course of that year.

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