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If you drop a dozen ping-pong balls on a somewhat rough surface, what happens?  In my experience, they go every which way, none of which are predictable.  It is somewhat like the real estate market right now…some areas are up, some are down, some are up one month and down the next.  Trying to make some sense out of it month by month can be really frustrating.

Let’s start this report by looking at who went up and who went down, but then we’re going to talk about trendlines

Bellingham’s September home sales were up strongly from last year in terms of number of homes sold, but the prices dropped – 14% for the average and 12.5% in the median – and that tended to be the pattern throughout most of the county.  Only Lynden saw the number of sales drop, but they came off an incredible increase in August.  Birch Bay/Blaine was the only area where average and median prices were higher than a year ago – by about 7.8%.  Over all, September had the 3rd highest number of home sales in Whatcom County so far in 2011.

As the table below demonstrates, the distribution of sales across price ranges in Bellingham continued to stay heavy on the lower end.  In fact, nearly all the additional sales over last year were below $300,000. This, in itself, pulls down both the average and the median prices.

September 2010 Price Ranges in $1000's

Total 2010  Sept. $ Sales

Total Units Sold

Average Sales Price

% of Market

Changes in  Septembet Year to Year Distribution of Residential Sales   in Bellingham

 

<300

$7,438,800 33 $225,418 52.4%

300 to <500

$6,636.900 18 $368,7171 28.6%

>500

$3,655,000 6 $609,167 9.5%

>750

$6,637,500 6 $1,106,250 9.5%

August 2011 Price Ranges in $1000's

Total 2011  August $ Sales

Total Units Sold

Average Sales Price

% of Market

Unit Change

Average Price Change

<300

$9,342,253 43 $217,262 60.6% 30.3% -3.6%

300 to <500

$6,426,100 17 $378,006 23.9% -5.6% 2.5%

>500

$4,391,533 7 $627,262 9.9% 16.7% 3.0%

>750

$3,431,900 4 $857,975 5.6% -33.3% -22.4%

So we have looked at the specific numbers for the month…now let’s look at the trends.  Last month I gave you changes in average and median prices for most areas of the county since 2006.  If you want to check those out again, you can find them on our website in last month’s Real Estate Statistics Report.

The following charts take numbers from each month and smooth them into a “trendline”.  The first covers the past 2 years, the second the last three years.  Note how they have become less extreme in slope.  While unit sales have trended downward more recently, the price lines have leveled. 

It seems that the ups and downs of the market are gradually moving toward a bit more stability.

A report on the market these days wouldn’t be complete without a comment about distressed properties…short sales and bank-owned properties.  Those numbers seem to be staying fairly stable.  Together, they comprise about 10% of the active listings in Bellingham.  In September, they were 15.5% of the sales.  In terms of homes under contract in Bellingham, almost 42% of them are short sales and bank owned properties.  Stop a minute and think about the differences between the 15.5 % of sales and the 42% under contract.  These numbers stay pretty consistent, and what they tell us is that a lot of people think they want to buy one, but closing them can be difficult.  This is particularly true of short sales.  At any particular time, the number of short sales under contract is equivalent to about 9 months of actual sales.  They don’t move through the system very quickly.  As of October 1st, bank owned properties were moving more quickly to closing once they went under contract…those pending sales seem to be backed up about 4 months.

            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.