October 31 of last year was intended to be the final closing date for home purchases eligible for the first time home buyer’s tax credit. That deadline was eventually extended and the program expanded beyond just first time buyers, but the October numbers this year clearly show the impact of that program and that deadline.
The number of homes sold in Whatcom County this October was down 20% from October last year, but it was almost exactly the same as the number sold in 2008. Most areas were close to this pattern, although Ferndale was up slightly against last year and Sudden Valley almost matched 2009. In Bellingham, the drop in number of sales was entirely in the under $300,000 range – all other price points sold at least as many homes as a year ago.
Average and median prices were somewhat influenced by this change in the price distribution of sales, with overall average prices increasing 0.3% countywide and the median dropping just 1.5%. In Bellingham, the average sale price increased 2%, to $333,597, and the median rose to $286,000 (4.8%). As can be seen in the table below, while unit sales held steady or increased in all except the bottom price range, average sale prices dropped in all price ranges.
It is interesting to note that the annual sales curve over the past three years has become much flatter than in the past, with less of a jump during the traditionally higher sales months of June, July and August.
So what’s coming? Bellingham pending sales as of October 15 were down 21% from 2009, but they are rising relative to pending sales in 2008. Inventory levels in 2010 are 9% higher than in 2009, but are nearly identical to 2008. This might actually indicate stability in the market, since the 2009 and early 2010 numbers were artificially inflated by tax credits. While certainly not indicating signs of recovery, it may show that the market is not continuing to drop.
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.