Pacific County real estate: Still a buyer’s market

EO MEDIA GROUP 2010 FILE PHOTOWith its miles of ocean front, pristine dunes and assets like the Discovery Trail, Long Beach Peninsula has much to offer potential home buyers.

PACIFIC COUNTY — Since 2011 median home prices in Washington have seen a steady uptick, but that trend was slow in coming to Pacific County.

From 2007 to 2011, median home prices in Washington fell from just over $300,000 to around $224,000, according to the Washington Office of Financial Management. Since then, however, prices have been on the rise, with a median price in 2014 of $268,400.

Over roughly the past year, however, the Pacific County real estate agents have seen a rebound in the market, they said, and home sale volumes are climbing back to pre-recession levels.

It’s still a buyer’s market, for now, but that may be shifting as home prices climb and inventory starts to fall.

The trend toward rising home prices may have been delayed in coming to Pacific County, but the recovery here has been ramping up over the past year, said Cheri Diehl, co-owner of Discovery Coast Real Estate.

Median home prices in Pacific county have seen a jump from 2014 to 2015, according to data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. In August 2014, the median price for a residential home in the county was $110,000. That rose to $130,000 a year later, a more than 18 percent increase. That increase is the third highest among Washington counties tracked by the listing service.

The county is unlikely to see prices jump the way they have in major cities like Seattle, Diehl said, but the buoying markets in larger cities makes buyers more willing to spend on secondary and vacation homes, a significant portion of the Pacific county market.

The ripple effects of larger markets have brought a number of buyers looking for a second home to Pacific county, said Leslie Brophy, Pacific Realty owner and managing broker.

“Our vacation homes seem to sell better than our primary residences because it’s more of a vacation area,” she said.

One of the surprising trends she’s seen has been people buying homes and using them as vacation rentals to offset the cost of a mortgage, Brophy said, and that’s having an impact on the rental market in the area.

“When the market was slower people weren’t selling their homes, so they would turn them into rentals,” Brophy said. “Now that the market’s doing better, people have rental homes are selling them. It’s making the rental market way tight.”

Renters may be having a tough time, but home sellers are doing well.

Through the spring and summer of this year, Pacific county has started to see its sales volumes reach close to what they were before the market crash, said Rick Veland, a title officer with Pacific Title Company.

That jump comes at least in part from a combination of a stronger economy, low interest rates and the fact that Pacific county offers a more budget-friendly alternative to the Oregon coast, Veland said.

The improving market is helped along by a lower number of foreclosed homes on the market, he added.

When foreclosed homes made up a significant portion of the real estate market, the banks reselling those homes skewed the market by offering lower prices than any homeowner would be able to, Veland said. That made it difficult for private sellers to compete and, in turn, depressed the market, he said.

Now, however, the number of homes for sale has been on the rise, according to data from the Multiple Listing Service. Two years ago 296 homes and 108 pieces of land were listed for sale in Pacific county. Those numbers jumped to 359 and 124, respectively over the past year.

Now that the county real estate market is recovering, it’s doing so at a consistent pace, regardless of the season, Brophy said.

Normally spring is a strong selling season as buyers shop for summer homes. That hasn’t been the case over the past year, however, Brophy said.

“We have been consistent. It seems to have slowed down a bit in August, as far as the lines of people making purchases, but now we’re going crazy again,” she said.

The selling season stays strong through Thanksgiving, lulls during the holidays and picks up again around the first of the year, she said.

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