The number of homes for sale in Bellingham has dropped steadily over the past 10 years. In spite of that, as the “Great Recession” has gradually receded, the number of homes sold overall has increased…until now. The number of homes sold the first quarter of 2016 was down in every area of the county except Sudden Valley (from 10 in 2015 to 14 in 2016) and Mt. Baker (from 15 in 2015 to 32 in 2016). At the same time, prices keep inching up.
The results of these shifts in the Bellingham market can be seen in the table below. The short inventory and rising prices have created what I will call “category creep”. Note the % of market held by sales below $300,000 in 2015 compared to 2016. Now compare the actual number of homes sold in each of those categories.
This shift may be pushing more homebuyers out of Bellingham. At this time, the percentage of total Whatcom County home sales occurring in Bellingham is 35% – the lowest since I have been tracking them. The area with the 2nd highest percentage of sales in the first quarter is Ferndale, with 18% of the market, and Birch Bay/Blaine, with 11%.
The lack of inventory has also created a circle which perpetuates itself: sellers don’t want to sell unless they are sure they have a place to move, so potential listings aren’t coming on the market because the owners can’t find a house they want to buy.
Depending on one’s perspective, whether seller or buyer, the real estate market in Whatcom County is good or bad. If you are a seller, and you price your home realistically (note the bold print) you can expect top dollar and a quick sale.
On the other hand, if you don’t price it realistically, you could still be living in it 6 months from now. If you are a buyer, you have my sympathy. Have your financing ready to go, be ready to look at a property and offer quickly, and accept the fact that you may be in a competitive bidding situation. It can be very frustrating, but if you are realistic in your approach to the market, you can make it happen.
For details, charts and tables of numbers on all the Whatcom County market areas, go to www.JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com. We update the site weekly with everything from interest rates to market conditions. Also, feel free to call us at (360) 303-2734 or e-mail Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com if you want to know more about a specific portion of the market – we track a lot more than we have space to report.