by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - Lisa Frahm, president of the Columbia County Board of Realtors and realtor with Re/Max, said she has been seeing multiple offers on housing transactions this year which, she added, hasn't happened since 2006.Home prices across 20 U.S. cities (including Portland) rose 2.2 percent in June, reaching a level 12.1 percent higher than last year according to Standard and Poor's/Case-Schiller home price index. Lisa Frahm, president of the Columbia County board of realtors and realtor with Re/Max, said that trend is consistent with the real estate in Columbia County.

“Over the past 12 months, our prices have risen 12 percent, which is higher than the national average.” Frahm said. “The home-buying season peaks in late spring and early summer. Now, as schools go back into session, it gets a bit lighter. People are squeezing in last-minute vacations.”

Between 2006 and December of 2012, Columbia County home prices fell an average of about 46 percent, Frahm said. At this point, the county has rebounded by 20 percent. Frahm said she is “cautiously optimistic” that the housing market will continue to rebound. “We're seeing a lot of buyers come out to the Columbia County market who can afford to buy because the interest rates are still low,” she said. “I see this as a trend that will continue. If interest rates don't spike dramatically, I see steady growth.”

Frahm said since less expensive homes are unavailable with the increased cost of homes across the county, more owner-occupied families are purchasing homes. “It's a seller's market because there's more supply than demand,” she added. “Sellers are on the correct side of the formula for the first time in several years.”

Currently, the average home price in Columbia County is 178,500, which is up 5.5 percent from last year, Frahm said. There are 65 pending sales, which is an increase of 16 percent from last year, and there are currently 312 active listings in the county. Frahm added that the total market time for a house in Columbia County is currently averaging 102 days which, she added, is down significantly from last year.

Frahm said the real estate market in Columbia County somewhat reflects that of Portland. “The closer we are to the Portland market, the greater the appreciation,” she said. “We mirror the Portland market, but in a delayed fashion. It's like a wave coming out from Portland. Right now we're starting to ride that wave of appreciation.

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