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Whatcom County real estate sales are, for the most part, continuing to hold their own:

  • Bellingham sold 99 houses in July of both 2008 & 2009
  • Sudden Valley matched 2008 with 16 sales
  • Birch Bay sold 4 more houses in 2009 than in 2008 (36 compared to 32)
  • Lynden had the largest drop in sales, from 22 last year to 14 this year
  • Whatcom County as a whole was down about 6% in the number of residences sold

The increases were not totally unexpected, as pending sales have continued higher in most areas relative to last year, while inventory levels continue to fall.

Average prices in Bellingham and Ferndale increased from  July of 2008 sufficiently to raise the total Whatcom county price by 4.3%, although averages fell in the other areas of Whatcom County.

  • Bellingham:  July 2008/July 2009  Average up 9.8%, Median down 0.6%
  • Total Whatcom County:  July 2008/July 2009  Average up 4.3%, Median down 5.5%

As the chart below clearly shows, neither the median nor the average prices showed the drop from June to July that was the case last year, and the number of units sold stayed a bit more stable.

The table below explains the increase in the average price over last year.  Note the distribution of sales – there were the same number of sales, but the number sold in the upper end (over $750,000) quadrupled, to increase by 6 sales.  At the same time, the average price and number of sales in the price ranges below $500,000 actually dropped a bit.

So where is our real estate market going  I continue to see a gradual strengthening, with sales staying close to last year’s levels and relatively stable prices.  Inventory levels in Bellingham are the lowest they have been in the past 4 years, the $8000 first time homeowner tax credit is attracting new buyers, the rise in the stock market is increasing some buyers’ liquidity, interest rates are still good and there are some excellent values in the market.

In spite of these positive factors, I do not expect prices increases any time soon.  Employment and consumer confidence numbers are still down, interest rates may very well increase in the fall, and the somewhat stronger real estate market has been driven in large part by falling prices, low rates and that $8000 tax credit.  There is still plenty of inventory for current demand - factors that cause prices to rise are not on the horizon.

For ongoing real estate numbers, go to www.JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com/blog. 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.