LONG BEACH — As the housing market was cooling in Washington’s main urban centers this past summer, sales and prices remained strong in Pacific County, according to a just-released analysis.
From July through September 2018, the pace of Pacific County home sales increased by annualized rate of 5.7 percent, while they went down 0.5 percent statewide, the University of Washington’s Runstad Department of Real Estate reported. The median price of a home rose 10.9 percent here last summer compared to a year earlier, while prices increased an average of 1.6 percent across the state.
Despite the gain in prices, Pacific County homes remain among the most affordable in Washington after taking local incomes and other factors into consideration, Runstad’s analysis found. Compared to King County surrounding Seattle where an average couple can come up with only about 71 percent of the income needed to buy a median-priced house, in Pacific County this hypothetical couple would have 156 percent of what it takes to qualify for an average home mortgage, UW said. Pacific County remains by far the most affordable housing market in Western Washington.
The county has, however, become unaffordable for first-time homebuyers, with a typical younger couple only having about 76 percent what it takes to buy an average starter home here, UW said. In only three of the state’s 39 counties is the real estate market now friendly to first-time purchasers. As recently as 2016 Pacific County was considered relatively affordable for novice homeowners.
On average last summer homes sold for $180,700 in Pacific County, less than half the statewide average of $368,900. At $685,000, King County has roared past the San Juan Islands as the state’s most expensive place to buy a house.
Looking at list prices, UW found in September that about 6 percent of Pacific County houses were priced at $80,000 or less, compared to about 1 percent statewide. Eighteen percent of county listings were under $160,000, compared to 5.2 percent statewide. Nearly 48 percent of homes here were listed at less than $250,000, while across the state just 15.3 percent were under the quarter of a million mark. Only about 14 percent of homes here were listed above $500,000; statewide about 43 percent of listings were above half a million.
The number of home listings in the county has declined sharply in recent years. UW figures that in September there were 222 active listings here, around half as many as five years earlier. This comparatively low supply is reflected in an average of about 4.4 months’ worth of inventory across all price levels. It would take more than four years to sell the houses priced above $500,000 in Pacific County, while homes selling at less than $160,000 are snapped up in an average of two months. In the price range of $250,000 to $499,999, there was about 6.7 months’ worth of supply at the end of September.
If 2018’s price trends are found to have continued in the final four months of the year, Pacific County’s average home price will have increased by around 80 percent since 2012, compared to a statewide average of approximately 60 percent.