Christina Herndon, infant son and her mother in tow, began hunting for her first home a week ago.
Herndon, on maternity leave from Amazon’s Kennewick call center, is seeking a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house large enough for her mom, aunt and 2 month old.
It’s only been a week, but already she’d seen a house she liked, only to learn 20 minutes after her visit that it was sold and no longer available.
Another home went under contract before she could even see it.
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Welcome to the Tri-Cities’ sizzling 2016 summer home buying season.
The National Association of Realtors says August is the hottest month for residential real estate in a decade. And the Kennewick-Richland-Pasco market is one of the fastest-moving markets in the nation.
In fact, it’s the 18th “hottest” area in the U.S. and the only one in the Pacific Northwest to qualify for the real estate group’s index. The index is based on the median number of days homes spend on the market and the number of views the listings receive on the association’s web site, realtor.com.
The median Tri-City home has been on the market for just 40 days. A normal market is about 72 days, it said.
Nationwide, low mortgage rates and shortages of homes for sale contributed to homes selling 2 percent faster this year than in 2015.
2Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
4San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.
Herndon said her needs are fairly basic. She wants a good-sized kitchen and bedrooms, a safe neighborhood, a pricetag of $220,000 or less.
That puts her in the fastest-moving segment of the fastest market, said her agent, Allie McGinnis, with Coldwell Banker Tomlinson Associated Brokers.
Anything under $200,000 is moving fast and the market appetite extends up to $250,000, she said.
McGinnis said first-time home buyers like Herndon are driving demand, along with families who are downsizing and retirees moving to the Tri-Cities.
She credits economic diversification and the Mid-Columbia’s growing reputation for sunny days and outdoor recreation.
Her advice to buyers: Be patient, remember your criteria and move fast.
“When the right listing comes on the market, we have to drop and go. Have to be in the door first and make an offer right now,” she said as the Herndons toured a perfectly staged split-level near the Kennewick Yoke’s Fresh Market on Friday.
When the right listing comes on the market, we have to drop and go. Have to be in the door first and make an offer right now.
Allie McGinnis, Coldwell Banker Tomlinson
The Herndons admired the upgrades and furniture arrangements, but quickly decided the bedrooms were too small for a multigeneration household.
Undaunted, they piled back into the family car to check out the next house on their list.
Tight inventories are contributing to the sense of urgency in the local real estate market, said Dennis Gisi, owner of John L. Scott Real Estate Tri-Cities Pasco.
Inventories have rebounded slightly since bottoming out at 513 in March. Still, with only 672 homes actively for sale in July, buyers have far less than usual to choose from. That drives up prices and pressure to put in offers.
“That is historically about half of where we had been running prior to the (2008) recession,” Gisi said.
Since January, the median price of a local home has climbed about 4 percent, to $234,000.
Gisi isn’t surprised to hear the numbers have driven the Tri-Cities to the top of the nation.
“The numbers are true,” he said.
Gisi said a booming relocation business is driving residential demand.
The National Association of Realtors predicts the market will slow down after Labor Day, but Gisi disagrees. July and August are typically the slowest months of the year for the Tri-Cities.
Looking ahead, he anticipates robust demand through the fall from buyers looking to secure homes before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.