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The number of houses sold throughout Whatcom County continued to fall in March, but, as usual, the specifics vary widely from one area to another. A comparison of March 2008 to March 2009 numbers show the following:

  • Bellingham went from 80 to 53 houses sold
  • Birch Bay/Blaine was actually up one sale, from 14 to 15 homes sold
  • Whatcom County as a whole dropped from 174 to 125 sales

From February to March, home sales typically increase, but that is not always the case:

  • Bellingham sold 53 houses in March compared to 39 in February
  • Birch Bay/Blaine and Lynden saw fewer houses close in March, but other areas were up
  • Whatcom County as a whole closed 125 homes in March compared to 93 in February

Average price changes varied widely, as usual, from an increase of 11.4% in one area to a decline of 18.4% in another from March of last year. Some of our communities are small, so one or two home sales can have a major impact as a percentage change. The larger samples of Bellingham and Whatcom County as a whole are better indicators of trends:

  • Bellingham: Average up 3%, Median up 8.6% March 2008 to March 2009
  • Total Whatcom County: Average down 3.7%, Median down 5.8%

As shown by the chart above, we are seeing the normal increase in sales as we go into spring, but the curve is much flatter than usual. On the other hand, the average and median prices in Bellingham are climbing more than we have seen in the recent past at this time of year. Whatcom County is showing a stronger increase in number of homes sold, but less strength in prices.

The distribution of sales returned to a more normal pattern in March, with the number of sales in the under $300,000 range dropping in relation to the number from $300,000 to $500,000. In February, over 70% of the sales in Bellingham were below $300,000. This may well be an indicator of a return to a more normal market.

So where is our real estate market going I see a gradual strengthening, with more sales and relatively stable prices. The chart below shows the number of homes for sale and the number of homes under contract by week since the beginning of the year and compares numbers from 2008 to those this year. As of Saturday morning for the past 4 weeks, there have been more houses under contract than on those Saturdays a year ago. The increases are small and the indicator is very fragile, but it is the first time these numbers have increased in at least 18 months. We’ll keep you posted on how they change.

If you have any question on the above statistics or are in search of other data to help you in your real estate sale or purchase feel free to give us a call at (360) 303-2734 as we would be glad to help.