July residential real estate sales were up nicely (19.8 percent) in Bellingham over last year, and have overcome some down times to post an increase of 7.9 percent over the first 7 months. While Birch Bay/Blaine and Lynden showed a bit more bounce in July, they (as well as every other area in the county) are still down in number of units sold compared to 2006. As a result, Whatcom County as a whole has seen a small decline of 2.5 percent in the number of units sold since the beginning of 2007, with the biggest drops in Sudden Valley and Birch Bay.
Average sold prices are another story, with increases in every area of the county in July over July a year ago. Inventory levels in Bellingham are about 8 percent higher than they were a year ago (down from 16 percent higher last month), but average prices of those homes that sold are still up 3.8 percent over last year as a whole. Whatcom County sold prices increased by 9.2 percent while the median rose by 4.3%.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, please remember that these numbers can be deceiving, because the average home in Whatcom County has not increased in price over the past year. It is simply that more expensive homes are selling, and that raises both the average and the median. Average days on market for homes sold Jan 1 through July 31 are up 33 percent over last year for the county as a whole, which is staying pretty stable at 96 days to a sale.
To summarize, we have been seeing a rather even market. Over the next 30 days, we may begin to see some fallout from the decrease of liquidity in the lending markets. Concerns raised by the sub-prime mess have spread to concerns about the number of loans on which rates (and therefore payments) will soon be adjusting. Investors are more careful about buying loans, which means that there are fewer dollars to lend. This could start hitting all borrowers in the pocket – not just those in the sub-prime classification.
If you would like information about any specific areas, feel free to call us at (360) 527-8766 or email Lylene and we will get right back to you.