Sequim builder thinks end of real-estate slump is in sight

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The fall to the bottom in the Clallam County housing market is coming to an end, but a Sequim-based homebuilder warned Port Angeles business leaders Monday that “we’re not out of it yet.”

“In Clallam County, we’re still deep in the woods,” Greg McCarry, North Peninsula Building Association board member, told an audience of about 60 at the weekly Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon meeting at the Red Lion Hotel.

“It’s just a different market. We still have a lot of foreclosures.”

McCarry framed his remarks with some welcome news for the area homebuilding industry.

“Generally speaking, real estate’s been on a race to the bottom since 2007, and I’m talking about here in Clallam County,” he said.

“It appears that the race is coming to an end.”

The housing market started to decline in other areas in 2005 and 2006, and Clallam County was a year or two behind the curve, McCarry said.

Recent anecdotal evidence shows positive trends emerging: record low interest rates and record high affordability, McCarry said.

“There’s a lot of pent-up demand,” added McCarry, president of Westerra Custom Homes. “It’s generally a much more positive trend.”

The Sequim-Dungeness Valley market has 593 homes listed for sale with 75 new pending sales. The supply is about eight months.

This year’s sales in the Sequim area are on pace to break last year’s total of 389 by 35, McCarry said.

In the Port Angeles market, which stretches from McDonald Creek to Joyce, there are 335 homes for sale, with 56 pending sales.

The market has a balanced, six-month supply, he said.

Port Angeles-area sales are on pace to eclipse last year’s total of 666 by 73 sales.

Meanwhile, average home prices are down about 6 percent in both markets, to about $205,000 in Sequim and about $188,000 in Port Angeles, McCarry said.

Clallam County is on pace to issue 106 home building permits this year, which is “quite a drop” from the 657 eight years ago, McCarry said.

“Financing is tough,” he added.

“About 28 percent of the sales fail because of financing problems, either because of high credit, the buyer doesn’t qualify financially, maybe a credit score, something like that, or the property doesn’t appraise.”

“Our prices are still stressed here in Clallam County,” McCarry continued.

“The competition for the new homebuilders, which is what we’re interested in, is still very high because the competing properties are much cheaper than we could replace them for.

FaLeana Wech, North Peninsula Building Association executive officer, recently attended a conference in New Orleans that featured National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist David Crowe.

“Basically, we are cautiously optimistic on a national level,” Wech told the chamber audience.

“On the upside, Washington state is in the top 20 percent of states that are beginning to recover quicker.

“By the end of 2013, they are forecasting that the top 20 percent will be above 70 percent of normal production, and normal production would be like 2002 levels.”



Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 13. 2012 6:02PM
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