Sales of single-family homes and construction of everything from apartments to luxury houses continues to surge in Yakima County, according to recent statistics from several real estate and home-building associations.
A report issued earlier this month shows Yakima among the top five cities in the U.S. for an increase in single-family home construction permits between June 2020 and June 2021.
And home sales in Yakima increased 14.7% between September 2020 and September of this year, with the amount of year-to-date sales through September increasing 33.5%, from $594 million to $793 million, between 2020 and 2021.
Pent-up demand for new homes, the ability to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, and historically low interest rates all are factors in the housing market boom, local real estate agents and real estate analysts said.
“There are not a lot of properties available for sale, so that tends to push the prices up,” said Kristi Wilbert, who tracks Yakima County home sales data through her “Headwaters: The Source” newsletter. “Demand is still high, and inventory remains low.”
Besides showing the increase in the number of home sales and the dollar amounts of home sales over the past year for Yakima County, Wilbert’s data shows 430 real estate transactions (commercial and residential) during September 2021. Of those, 348 were residential sales, totaling $116.6 million.
The Lower Valley
The boom in sales isn’t limited to the city of Yakima or nearby communities. The Lower Yakima Valley Association of Realtors, tracking home sales in Wapato, Toppenish, Zillah and points south in Yakima County, reported 65 homes sold during September 2021, compared to 39 homes sold in August and 42 homes sold in September 2020.
“That’s the largest number of homes sold in a month since 2018,” said Emmanuel Ochoa, communications and marketing director for the real estate association. “We’re hoping October will produce similar numbers. It’s a good time to be a seller.”
Sellers are certainly seeing healthy sales figures for their homes. Similar to the Headwaters report, the Lower Yakima Valley association reported a median sold price of $347,000 in September, compared to a $275,100 median sold price in September 2020 — a 26% increase over the past year.
Low interest rates have also fueled the home-buying surge. According to data tracked by Freddie Mac, the federal home loan mortgage corporation, the average rate for a 30-year home mortgage reached an all-time low of 2.65% in January 2021, and rates remained below 3% throughout August and September.
Those rates are a fraction of the double-digit interest rates attached to home loans in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Who are the buyers?
So who’s buying these Yakima County homes? Anecdotally, many buyers are residents from the Portland area and the west side of Washington who are looking for a more affordable and less stressful way of life, said Candy Stump, a Realtor with Keller Williams Yakima Valley’s office.
“So many people are leaving the cities, and …….