If Your Are Waiting for the Bottom of the Bellingham Real Estate Market…You Missed It!

Indicators of an improving real estate market have been getting stronger over the past few months, and in looking at 2012 as a whole, it is obvious that the housing market in Whatcom County has come back.  For the first time since 2006, the number of homes sold, the average price at which they sold and the median price at which they sold over the course of 2012 are all higher than the prior year.

Whatcom County Residential Sales – Full Year
2011 2012 % Change
Units Sold 1841 2077 12.8%
Average Sale Price $272,642 $282,671 3.7%
Median Sale Price $242,310 $250,000 3.2%

This growth has been building throughout the year, and has been particularly strong in the last quarter, as shown below:

Whatcom County Residential Sales – 4th Quarter
2011 2012 % Change
Units Sold 445 542 21.8%
Average Sale Price $256,144 $290,242 13.3%
Median Sale Price $227,000 $259,500 14.3%

Another positive sign is that the number of days homes are on the market before selling has dropped.  When combined with continued low inventory and interest rates, 2013 may be a very good year for real estate in Whatcom County.

There are some individual areas where the numbers might raise questions, but for the most part, they do not raise a concern when considered more closely.  As examples,

While Lynden sales numbers were up by 24.6%, average and median prices were down around 2%, which has more to do with fewer sales over $400,000 than with overall declines in price.

Birch Bay/Blaine sales were down 9.5%, but average prices were up by 18.7% and the median increased by 11.9%.  These numbers reflected several factors which might actually indicate the market is much stronger there than it would appear at first glance.

Sales for more than $400,000 were up by 41%

Sales of bank owned properties were down by 5.3%

Short sales were down by 15%

Numbers are always interesting to me, and since they are measurements, they seem more reliable than opinions or stories from the street.  However, as we see in the Blaine numbers, unless one digs below the surface, the picture they give may be skewed.  From a purely anecdotal perspective, in the first 3 days of the New Year, we have been contacted by 5 new or returning clients who have decided it is time for them to buy.  While we certainly don’t expect that rate to continue, it is one more indicator of an uptick in the housing market. Continue Reading…..