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.
  •  

  • 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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Bellingham Real Estate Market Monthly Report

They’re Still Bouncing!

Last month I compared our market to ping pong balls, sometimes up, sometimes down, sometimes both…just depends on the area.  In October

  • Bellingham unit sales up from October 2010 (to 75 homes from 65) & almost equal to last month (to 75 homes from 77).
  • Ferndale unit sales down from October 2010 (to 14 homes from 27) & down further from last month (to14 homes from 37).
  • Birch Bay/Blaine unit sales down a bit from October 2010 (to 13 homes from 15) & down a lot from last month (to13 homes from 28).
  • Ferndale unit sales dropped substantially from October 2010 (to 14 homes from 27) & from last month as well (to 14 homes from 37).
  • Lynden managed to about break even – up 3 homes from 2010 and down 3 from September.  

But how about the prices, you say.  They were bouncing too, with average sale prices in Bellingham and Birch Bay/Lynden down in the double digits from September while Ferndale, Sudden Valley and Nooksack Valley saw double digit increases.  If we compare to October 2010, Ferndale and Mt Baker home sale averages were up by double digits, while Birch Bay/Blaine and Lynden were down by those amounts and Bellingham and Sudden Valley were close to holding their own.  Want more specifics?

  • Bellingham prices October 2011 to 2010:  average -3.7%; median -12.1%
  • Whatcom County prices October 2011 to 2010:  average -15.8%; median -18.8%
  • Bellingham prices October to September 2011:  average -12%; median -2.4%
  • Whatcom County prices October to September 2011:  average +.4%; median -1.9%

The Bellingham market moved even more strongly into the lower price points, with 64% of the sales below $300,000.  Obviously, as prices have dropped, more homes have moved into this category, but it is interesting to note that 4 of the past 6 months have had over 60% of sales at or below $300,000.  This is atypical, even as far back as 2006.  It certainly isn’t because it is now easier for buyers in the lower price ranges to get loans!  During the frenzy, this part of the market was heavily dependent on sub-prime loans.  Now, standards for even FHA loans are higher.

There are several speculative explanations for the shift:

  • Prices for homes at all price points have fallen, moving more of the inventory below $300,000.
  • As prices have fallen, fewer owners of lower priced homes have been able to sell and take sufficient equity out of their current home to move into the next bracket.
  • As prices have fallen in areas traditionally providing our incoming purchasers (California, Seattle), our market has localized so our buyers have local incomes and less equity.
  • Buyers (and lenders) are more aware of the hazards of “over-buying”, so they are purchasing more conservative homes.

  The table below shows the change in market distribution from last October

October 2010 Price Ranges in $1000’s

Total 2010 October $ Sales

Total Units Sold

Average Sales Price

% of Market

Changes in October Year to Year Distribution of Residential Sales   in Bellingham

   

 

   

<300

$7,380,000

34

$217,059

50.7%

300 to <500

$8,739,727

24

$364,155

35.8%

>500

$3,508,000

6

$584,667

9.0%

>750

$2,731,000

3

$910,333

4.5%

             

October 2011 Price Ranges in $1000’s

Total 2011 October $ Sales

Total Units Sold

Average Sales Price

% of Market

Unit Change

Average Price Change

   

 

       

<300

$10,575,540

48

$220,324

64.0%

41.2%

1.5%

300 to <500

$7,895,576

20

$394,779

26.7%

-16.7%

8.4%

>500

$2,828,005

5

$565,601

6.7%

-16.7%

-3.3%

>750

$2,805,000

2

$1,402,500

2.7%

-33.3%

54.1%

To read the complete article visit The Johnson Team Real Estate’s Real Estate Update Page. www.JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com also includes a constantly updated list of newly listed properties and a list of properties being offered as short sales & foreclosures (REOs), as well as the entire listing database of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, fully searchable to your specifications.

 

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Bellingham and Whatcom County Real Estate Update

A Mixed Bag

If you drop a dozen ping-pong balls on a somewhat rough surface, what happens?  In my experience, they go every which way, none of which are predictable.  It is somewhat like the real estate market right now…some areas are up, some are down, some are up one month and down the next.  Trying to make some sense out of it month by month can be really frustrating.

Let’s start this report by looking at who went up and who went down, but then we’re going to talk about trendlines

Bellingham’s September home sales were up strongly from last year in terms of number of homes sold, but the prices dropped – 14% for the average and 12.5% in the median – and that tended to be the pattern throughout most of the county.  Only Lynden saw the number of sales drop, but they came off an incredible increase in August.  Birch Bay/Blaine was the only area where average and median prices were higher than a year ago – by about 7.8%.  Over all, September had the 3rd highest number of home sales in Whatcom County so far in 2011.

As the table below demonstrates, the distribution of sales across price ranges in Bellingham continued to stay heavy on the lower end.  In fact, nearly all the additional sales over last year were below $300,000. This, in itself, pulls down both the average and the median prices.

 

Bellingham Sales Distribution

To learn more about what is happening in the Bellingham and Whatcom County Real Estate Markets visit and read the complete article complete with graphs visit the Bellingham Real Estate Update Page.

For ongoing real estate numbers and details 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 to information from Fannie Mae, the FED and the FDIC. 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.

If your neighborhood would like a presentation or a link to your website of up-to-date information on real estate in the neighborhood, we can provide it – just give us a call.

            www.JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com also includes a constantly updated list of newly listed properties and a list of properties being offered as short sales & foreclosures (REOs), as well as the entire listing database of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, fully searchable to your specifications.

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Bellingham Real Estate Market Update

After a rather scary July in the Whatcom County housing market, August brought a number of pleasant surprises:

  • More homes sold in Bellingham & Whatcom County as a whole than in any other month this year.  This is the first time in 6 years that has happened in Bellingham and only the second for the entire County.  June and July typically see the highest number of sales.
  • August sales matched 2010 sales in Bellingham and were up almost 21% for the County as a whole.
  • Lynden sales were incredible…up 183% over last year and higher than any year of the past 6.
  • Ferndale sales weren’t too bad either, doubling from last year and the highest since 2007.

            And then there was the pricing story:

  • Average sale prices in Bellingham dropped 5.8% from 2010 and 9.2% from July of this year.
  • Average sale prices in all of Whatcom County dropped 6.1% from 2010 and 2.2% from July of this year.
  • Lynden prices held the best, with the average actually increasing 3.8%.
  • Sudden Valley was hit the hardest, with both median & average prices down by 35% or more.

So what the heck is going on?  Let’s start by going back to the sales distribution numbers for Bellingham. Note the 61.4% of sales <$300,000.  Last year it was 50.6%, in 2009 it was 42.4%.

August 2010 Price Ranges in $1000’s

Total 2010  August $ Sales

Total Units Sold

Average Sales Price

% of Market

Changes in  August Year to Year Distribution of Residential Sales   in Bellingham

 

<300

$9,037,800

42

$215,186

50.6%

300 to <500

$10,889,405

29

$375,497

34.9%

>500

$6,111,950

10

$611,195

12.0%

>750

$1,645,000

2

$822,500

2.4%

 

August 2011 Price Ranges in $1000’s

Total 2011  August $ Sales

Total Units Sold

Average Sales Price

% of Market

Unit Change

Average Price Change

 

<300

$11,188,700

51

$219,386

61.4%

21.4%

2.0%

300 to <500

$8,794,901

23

$382,387

27.7%

-20.7%

1.8%

>500

$4,195,600

7

$599,371

8.4%

-30.0%

-1.9%

>750

$1,695,000

2

$847,500

2.4%

0.0%

3.0%

 

For the complete article on the state of the Bellingham and Whatcom County Real Estate Market’s visit Bellingham Real Estate Update Page   to read more!

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