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Hot market: Home sales strong locally despite national decline

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | April 4, 2021 1:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — Pending home sales in Central Washington rose in February, bucking the nationwide trend, which saw declines in nearly all regions of the country, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Across the United States, pending home sales — signed contracts to buy a house that have not yet closed — dropped 10.6% in February from the previous month and 0.5% from February, 2020. It’s the second straight month of declines in pending home sales, the NAR said, which also fell 2.8% in January from December, 2020.

According to the NAR, pending home sales in the association’s vast western region, which includes Washington state, fell 7.4% in February 2020.

However, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NMLS), which tracks home sales regionally, pending sales in Central Washington posted a slight year-over-year increase in February 2020, of 0.6% — 340 houses and condominiums — and a year-to-date increase of 3.7% when compared to the first two months of 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

The NMLS tracks housing sales in Adams, Grant, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Kittitas, Lincoln, Okanogan and Walla Walla counties.

If there is a dark cloud on the horizon for the housing market in the region, it is the lack of housing stock for sale. The NMLS reports a 62.2% decline in houses and condominiums for sale — to 397 this year from 1,051 in February, 2020 — leading to a nearly 30% increase in the median sales price of a home to $355,700 from $276,500.

“We just don’t have the inventory,” said Kevin Burgess, a Realtor with Windermere Real Estate in Moses Lake and president of the Moses Lake-Othello Association of Realtors. “We just don’t have enough.”

People are also snapping up what there is quicker. The average time a house is on the market fell to 43 days during the first two months of the year, down 39.4% from the same period of 2020, according to the NMLS report for February.

Median condominium prices in the region, however, fell nearly 16% during the same period to $257,000 from $305,000 in February 2020.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.