The Bellingham market has been providing most of the good news regarding real estate sales and values thus far this year, and the 3rd quarter was no exception. Even though the pace dropped dramatically (down 24%) in September, the number of units sold overall in the 3rd quarter still increased almost 4% over 2006, with average prices up 1.8%, the median up 3.3% and days on the market also up, to an average of 89.
The lackluster September sales numbers were forecast by the dramatic drop (29%) in pending sales in August, and this looks likely to continue for a bit, as pending sales in Bellingham in mid September were down 22% from the same week last year. Speculation is that this is the result of the widespread reporting on difficulties in the financial markets and increasing foreclosure rates. While the reality of these issues is having a major impact in other markets, here the impact seems to be one of perception rather than substance.
Much of the county outside Bellingham is experiencing softer sales, shown in the county numbers of unit sales down 2.5%, even though average and median sale prices are up 1.5% and 1.0%, respectively. The Ferndale and Lynden markets strengthened a bit in the 3rd quarter, but the Sudden Valley and Birch Bay/Blaine markets remain very soft.
While the mortgage market has tightened up and several mortgage brokers in town have closed their doors, there is still a wide selection of loan products available. Credit scores are more important than they were, but available products include Washington State Bond money for first time homebuyers, 5-15-80 products for those consumers with some downpayment (even in the form of a gift), “jumbo” loans at some very attractive interest rates, and most everything in between. It is a really good time to be a buyer.
If you are a seller, remember that over 25% of the homes that closed in Bellingham in September found their buyer in less than 31 days and received over 99% of their asking price. These were the “special” houses, and every seller has the power to create that sense about their home. You are in control if you choose to be.
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.