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Homes needed: Grant County housing market still contends with low inventory

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | January 21, 2022 10:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — The housing market in Grant County is a seller’s market as 2022 moves in, although supply chain issues may be slowing down the selling.

“The market is good right now. Things are still moving,” said Mark Fancher, managing broker at Coldwell Banker Tomlinson Ranch & Home in Moses Lake. “We’re still light on inventory.”

Nathaniel “Nate” Pruneda, broker for Imagine Realty Group in Moses Lake, said houses seem to be selling as quickly as they come on the market.

“It’s still a seller’s market. Definitely,” said Dustin Swartz, president of the Grant County Home Builders Association.

Swartz said he speaks from experience, having just sold his home.

“Our job growth is going up,” Fancher said. “With job growth is going to come the need for housing.”

Ironically, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the efforts to fight it that discombobulated the economy, accelerated demand in the Grant County housing market. People discovered they didn’t have to live close to the job to work from home.

Swartz said the recently approved Moses Lake Comprehensive Plan includes the estimate of 400 housing units having to be built per year to keep up with demand. There is vacant land within the city limits, but right now there aren’t many plans to develop it, he said.

Moses Lake city officials have worked to make the building permit process easier, he said, which has speeded it up. In addition, there is developable land outside the Moses Lake city limits, especially south of town.

While there’s a need for different types of housing, Swartz said, many prospective buyers are looking for houses with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, which are in high demand.

So, low inventory is making it difficult to meet demand, which means the next question is how to increase inventory.

“That’s the answer everybody is looking for,” Pruneda said.

Fancher said the ultimate answer to meeting demand is increasing supply, which means building more housing. But, Pruneda said, building more houses won’t necessarily solve the problem of prices.

Demand has pushed up prices, Pruneda said. At current prices, a three-bedroom, two-bath house is too expensive for most first-time home buyers.

Construction has been affected by materials shortages and along with that, rising prices, Swartz said. As an electrician, he’s experienced the impact of supply disruptions and inflation first-hand.

Some materials are in short supply, and prices have increased sharply in the last couple years, doubling in some cases. Prices for most electrical components have stabilized and started to come down, but not as fast as they went up, Swartz said.

“We have very, very big problems with that,” he said.

Availability is an even bigger issue, both for individual components and completed systems, he said.

“It affects everybody negatively,” he said.