Inventory levels in Grays Harbor weigh heavily on market activity

Low inventory levels fueled substantial price gains across Grays Harbor County in February, as sellers continued to benefit from a razor-tight market that is producing multiple offers on homes in the region.

As a result, the median price of a single-family residence in the Harbor leaped nearly $69,000 to $353,500 in February from $285,000 in February 2021, according to data compiled monthly by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. That marked an increase of 24.04 percent in the period.

“It’s a real inventory situation,” said Jim Vleming, a regional labor economist with the Washington State Employment Security Department, whose coverage area includes Grays Harbor County and Pacific County.

“A couple of years before the (COVID-19) pandemic, you drive that stretch to Ocean Shores or Westport and there were ‘for sale’ signs all along the road.”

That is no longer the case.

“I was (recently) in Westport. You don’t see a whole lot of ‘for sale’ signs,” said Vleming, who added demand for housing is so strong and inventory so low that multiple offers on properties is the norm in most markets. “We have seen a lot of houses go for over ask.”

The most active market in the Harbor continued to be Ocean Shores, which posted a roughly $80,000 rise in the median home price to $399,000 in February from $318,725 in February 2021. That marked a gain of 25.19 percent in the period on sales of 29 homes.

But that increase was dwarfed by the Montesano market, where the median price skyrocketed 60.58 percent to $417,500 in February from $260,000 in February 2021. The $157,500 gain came amid sales of 12 homes in the period, the monthly data showed.

Grayland and Westport ranked second and third in percentage gains at 54.29 percent and 47.78, respectively. However, the eye-popping figures came on the back of two recorded home sales in Grayland and two in Westport.

“There is such limited inventory, so when those homes do pop up that skews the numbers,” said David Quigg of Quigg & Co Real Estate in Hoquiam on an inventory level that stood at 1.46 months in Grays Harbor County.

The monthly supply number represents the number of months it would take for the current inventory level to be exhausted given the rate of sales in a particular city or county.

Hoquiam also posted strong numbers, as the median price of a home rose 22.25 percent to $250,000 in February from $204,500 in February 2021. Total sales were up 30 percent to 13 from 10 in the same period.

“It was so good for us,” said Quigg on the level of activity at this real estate firm in February. “I think at one point we had 20 some things under contract.”

One of the more interesting aspects of the market, he said, was the level of growth in the winter months.

“January, February and even into March historically have been very quiet months … to see growth through the winter is very unusual,” Quigg said.

Amid the rising tide of prices were a few markets where the median price went the other way in February. The median price of a home in Aberdeen dropped 19.72 percent to $180,550 from $224,900. Cosmopolis was down 36.99 percent to $310,000 from $491,950 and McCleary dipped 2.13 percent to $342,500 from $349,950.

But Elma was up 8.15 percent to $365,000 in February from $337,500 in February 2021. The Elma market ended the month with an inventory level of 0.29 months.

Statewide, residential and condominium prices rose 14.26 percent to $585,000 from $512,000 in the same period. Pacific County had the largest percentage increase in the state at 63.02 percent to $335,000 from $205,500 on the back of 29 sales.