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Cowlitz County’s housing market remained strong in February, and despite a little softening, it’s still a good time to sell a house, according to statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service and area real estate agents.

The number of closed sales last month dipped to 59, down from 96 a year earlier. But the median sales price rose nearly 20 percent year over year, from $238,500 in February last year to $284,000 this year, according to NWMLS.

For points of comparison, the median price for homes here did not hit $200,000 until June 2016, and last month’s median was more than $100,000 more than the median in June 2015 ($176,000).

The number of homes for sale in the county is up 15 percent over a year ago, to 168, according to NWMLS.

February concludes what is typically the slowest time of year for home sales, said Coldwell Banker Bain Broker Mark Scroggins. He said December, January and February almost always see a slow market because people are reluctant to put their homes on the market around the holidays and during bad weather.

Instead, Scroggins said, some of his clients have been holding out for March or April to start selling. He said he expects the spring this year to see a “really solid” housing market.

“As far as sellers go, if there’s ever a time to sell your home, this is a good year because values have increased,” Scroggins said.

Scroggins said it’s important to note that it’s generally a seller’s market for homes under $300,000 because that’s closer to the price range of most area buyers. Homes priced above $400,000 are taking longer to sell, and that’s more a buyer’s than seller’s market, he said.

“For Cowlitz County, that’s why we’re seeing such an influx of California people, Portland people, Vancouver people,” Scroggins said. “Because our prices are so good, they can get a lot more house here for the same amount of money.”

Kevin Campbell, designated broker at Windermere in Longview, said home buyers are concerned about rising interest rates, which are currently just over 4 percent. A month ago, Campbell said, interest was just above 5 percent — both rates that Campbell called “a dream” compared to interest rates 10 years ago.

Current interest rates are “pretty wonderful, but it doesn’t take long for the rate to be in the 3 and 4 (percents) and people think that’s the norm,” Campbell said.

Campbell said he expects to see fewer homes sold throughout 2019 than were sold in 2018, but not drastically so. He also said prices through 2018 raised about 6 percent, a trend he expects to continue.

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