Bellingham and Whatcom County Real Estate Market Update

March 2012 – Whatcom County Real Estate Numbers

 Things are looking up a bit in the Whatcom County Real Estate market.  Let’s look at some examples:

  • March was up strongly over February in both units sold and prices in most areas of the county.  This is a typical spring occurance.  Bellingham sales increased 63%, average prices were up 15.8% and median price rose 7.2%.  Whatcom County sales increased 50%, average prices 18.5% and the median was up 11.2%.  All good.
  • Compared to March of 2011, the numbers were a bit more mixed, but still not too bad.  While Bellingham sales numbers were down 4.6%, that will probably change with some late reporting.  Whatcom County sales overall were up 9.7 %.  Average sale prices in Bellingham were up 7% over last March, while the median dropped 4.6%.  All of Whatcom County saw averages up 6.3% and the median down 0.4%.  Indications are that the market is holding steady relative to a year ago, with changes being relatively minor in most areas.
  • The first quarter relative to 2011 clearly showed the increased demand in areas outside Bellingham, with increases in number of homes sold from 15.0% in Blaine/Birch Bay to 51.7% in Lynden.  Bellingham sales were down 11.3% from the first 3 months of 2011.  Pricing was mixed, with the county as a whole, including Bellingham, down 4% in average prices and 6.3% in the median.

 So, to summarize, the shift of activity from Bellingham to the county seems to be continuing, prices have softened since a year ago, but are showing a bit more strength over the past 2 months.

 Sales numbers and prices are giving us some positive market indicators, and there are other factors worthy of attention. 

  • Last month we noted the decline in the number of short sale and bank owned properties listed for sale.  That continued in March.
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  • Inventory levels are remaining extremely low.  As sales increase, there could be upward pressure on prices. Throughout the county, the average number of days a property is on the market before an accepted contract is down by 10.4% from last year, to 146 days.  23% are selling within 30 days, at almost 98% of list price. 
  • While interest rates have bumped up a bit, they are still extremely low.

 

  • The distribution of sales in Bellingham in March showed more strength in the ranges over $300,000.  While the past few months had 70+% of sales in the under $300,000 range, March was back to a more typical under $300,000 percentage of 58.1%.  That could be the result of move up buyers as well as more incoming population.

 

In summary, underlying conditions are supportive of a stronger market through the spring.

To read the complete article and view additional charts and graphs on the local Bellingham Real Estate Market visit The Johnson Team’s Real Estate Market Report

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