Local markets spotlights 5 different areas across the country, showcasing what is uniquely happening in those housing markets. Local real estate agents, loan officers and appraisers share what characteristics are currently defining their housing markets.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Located an hour and a half northwest of Portland, the ocean-side community is known for its picturesque beaches and coastline. For this reason, local RE/MAX broker Alaina Giguiere said that traditionally it is a second-home market, so when the COVID-19 pandemic hit two years ago, she was prepared for the worst. “We thought it was going to be a really horriﬁ c year, but I’ve had the best year I’ve had in my 21-year career in real estate,” Giguiere said.
According to Giguiere, home prices in the area have almost doubled in the past six years. “What we see here is extraordinarily low inventory and very high demand,” she said. “One of the agents I have helped her clients win was a house against 18 other offers, but they went $100,000 over asking.” With remote work capabilities making it possible for people to work from anywhere, Giguiere said she is seeing more and more buyers give in to the allure of Cannon Beach. “It is truly spectacular,” she said. “People come here because it is just magical.”
Nestled in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley, the town of Northampton, despite its quiet, rural setting, cannot escape the chaotic housing market conditions gripping the country. “We have had a huge influx of people from New York City, Boston and especially California, moving to the area and buying houses via FaceTime,” local Sotheby’s agent Meghan McCormick said. Attracting homebuyers to the area are Northampton’s strong arts and culture scene, the availability of outdoor recreation at the nearby Holyoke and Mount Tom ranges, top-ranking school districts and proximity to the Five College Consortium which consists of Amherst College, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“It’s just a very friendly and welcoming place,” McCormick said. “People who might not feel comfortable in certain parts of the country feel very comfortable moving here.” The area’s warm atmosphere and bounty of attractions have resulted in the town’s median list price closing out 2021 with a 21.5% year-over-year increase, according to Realtor.com.
From Boise, Idaho, to Burlington, Vermont, locals are blaming an influx of California exiles for soaring home prices. But the Californians wishing to remain in state while still escaping high fire danger areas and rising living costs are settling in the coastal Northern California town of Eureka. High levels of demand have put increased stress on the already tight housing inventory and resulted in almost constant bidding wars. “It is literally every house,” local Ming Tree, Realtors agent Annalise von Borstel said. “If it is priced lower, you know there is going to be 14 to 15 offers. If is it priced higher, there may be only two or three to compete against, but I would say 99% are multiple offer situations.”
With local Humboldt State University now set to become California’s third polytechnic institution, von Borstel only expects conditions to worsen. “I wish I could say that we are about to get a ton of new housing, but there is nothing on the immediate horizon that is going to change our inventory situation,” she said. “Topographically and geographically, we are a very challenging place to build. There are a couple of projects on the horizon, but they haven’t broken ground yet.”
Temperatures might be well below freezing and the sun may only be up for a handful of hours a day, but this winter, it seems like nothing is stopping buyers from hunting for their dream home in Anchorage. “You’d be surprised at the amount of people who can just see past the snow and the dark,” Megan Daniel, a local Keller Williams agent said. “Normally, we see a pretty intense seasonality shift with our winters here in Alaska being what they are and we are seeing a slight slowdown from the absolute craziness of this summer, but not nearly as much as we would expect based on historical trends.”
While the area’s natural beauty and military bases, such at Fort Richardson Army base, have historically been a draw, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic saw many individuals who had dreamed of moving to the “Last Frontier” finally take the plunge. “All of a sudden, these people who have always wanted to move to Alaska are going, ‘Well why not now?’” Daniel said. “They can work from home or some of them have just decided that they don’t want to return to their nine-to-five office job and are either retiring early or reinventing themselves and just finally doing what they want to do with their lives.”
Sitting right on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, Memphis has long been a hub of industry, music and barbeque. Jenny Vergos, a local Marx-Bensdorf agent, says it is these qualities plus the relatively low cost of living attracting buyers to Memphis.
“We don’t have a state income tax in Tennessee, which makes us very appealing to many,” Vergos said. “Our downtown is typically very vibrant, but definitely a bit less so with COVID and we are the headquarters for FedEx, which makes us a hub for so much.”
Although the market in Memphis is cooler than nearby Nashville, the median sales price of homes in the area rose 16.3% in 2021 to $204,600, according to the Memphis Area Association of Realtors, and Vergos says she expects this price growth to continue through the spring of 2022.
“I don’t see things slowing down,” she said. “We don’t have a ton of inventory right now, so we are hoping that more people decide to put their houses on the market this spring. With the pandemic ramping up again and people seeing work from home as even more of a permanent situation they may feel the need for more room in their home and will hopefully decide that it is time to list.”
This was originally featured in the March Issue of HousingWire Magazine. To read the full issue, click here.