There were dramatic fluctuations in the number of homes sold in September compared to August of this year, from an increase of 90% in Ferndale to a drop of 73% in Sudden Valley. Overall, fewer Whatcom County homes sold in September than in August, which is very typical. On a year to year comparison, however, sales were down in all areas, from almost 78% in Sudden Valley to 15% in the Mt Baker area. The county as a whole was down nearly 38% in the number of homes sold compared to September of 2009.
Average & median prices, on the other hand, were up for the most part – from a 14% increase county wide in the average sale price to a 7.9% increase in the median sale price. Before getting too excited about those numbers, look at the table below showing the price distribution of Bellingham sales. As you will note, the price range below $300,000 had the largest drop in number of sales – down 42%. The 4 additional sales in the $750,000 and up price range added over $4,000,000 to the total volume of real estate sold. These two changes caused the jump in the average and median sale prices. Prices of individual homes did not go up over last year, and sale prices relative to list prices dropped 2 percentage points from last year.
A comparison of sales figures for Whatcom County as a whole shows that 12.6% fewer homes have sold thus far in 2010 than sold for the same period in 2009, and the average & median prices of those homes dropped by less than 2%. Again, this was influenced by the recent shift in sales activity out of the lowest price range.
So what’s next? Bellingham pending sales as of September 15 were down 26% from 2009, while inventory levels were 17% higher than a year ago. This continues a trend that started in April. Interest rates are still phenomenal. While sales under $300,000 dropped in September, it is still the most active price range, although the upper ranges have definitely picked up. One interesting statistic is that 43% of the pending sales in Bellingham are currently short sales or bank owned properties, while they accounted for just 9% of the sales in September and are just 7.4% of the properties currently for sale. Recent announcements by GMAC & Chase that they are putting foreclosures on hold may slow that part of the market down.
The market is very unsettled right now and generalizations about pricing & demand are even less applicable than usual. If you are thinking of buying or selling, it is critical that you research the type of property, the price range and the specific neighborhood where your interest lies. We are still seeing multiple offers and fast sales; we are also seeing homes that have literally been on the market for years. The market offers a lot of opportunities for buyers in terms of selection and interest rates, but it also requires them to make a decision quickly if they find a great house that’s a great buy. For sellers, it is more critical than ever to price a property correctly when it first goes on the market.
If your neighborhood would like a presentation or a link to your website of up-to-date information on real estate in the neighborhood, we can provide it – just give us a call.
www.JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com also includes a constantly updated list of newly listed properties and a list of properties being offered as short sales & foreclosures (REOs), as well as the entire listing database of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, fully searchable to your specifications.