Bellingham and Whatcom County Real Estate Sales – More of the Same

Real estate sales numbers in both Bellingham and Whatcom County continued to drop in August 2008, with 40% fewer home sales than in August of 2007. Average prices, on the other hand, varied widely from one area to another, with the average home in Bellingham selling for 14% more than a year ago, while the average home sale in Lynden dropped by almost 20%. These numbers actually provide an excellent example of why it is important to look beyond the averages if we want a true picture of what the market is doing. For example, in August 2007, no homes in Bellingham sold for $1,000,000 or more and only one sold in the $900,000 range. In August 2008, one home sold for $3,300,000 and two others sold for more than $900,000. Those differences have a dramatic influence on the average. The median price in Bellingham increased 0.2%. For Whatcom County as a whole, average home prices were up 4.1%, while the median sales price dropped by 3.3%.

Bellingham Home Sales August 2007 August 2008 % Change Year-to-Year
Units Sold 145 86 -40.7%
Avg List $366,362 $428,052 18.8%
Avg Sold $359,316 #409,448 14.0%
Median Sold $309,000 $309,500 0.2%
DOM 76 75 -1.3%
% of List 98% 96%  


Whatcom County Home Sales August 2007 August 2008 % Change Year-to-Year
Units Sold 312 185 -40.7%
Avg List $342,013 $363,702 6.3%
Avg Sold $334,171 $348,031 4.1%
Median Sold $290,450 $281,000 -3.3%
DOM 91 85 -6.6%
% of List 98% 96%  

Overall inventory levels are remaining stable, with 684 single family homes available for sale in Bellingham in mid August of this year compared to 679 in mid August of 2007.

So how is the market if you want to sell your house Actually, not bad, and you control the market for your particular house. Almost 33% of homes sold in the Bellingham real estate market are on the market 30 days or less before an offer is accepted. This is a slightly higher percentage than last year. These houses sold at 97.86% of list price, compared to 99.84% of list price last year. There are buyers, but they are only buying the best. If you want to sell, your house must offer the best location, the best condition and the best value for the dollar. If you don’t have the best location and condition, you had better make up for it in price, and you had better do it sooner rather than later. Houses that were on the market over 120 days only sold at 93.5% of list price (typically after several reductions from the original).

So how is the market if you want to buy a house Very good, provided you don’t dilly dally when you find a good value. If it’s a great buy and you can’t make a decision, you will lose it. You still have good interest rates, you have better choices than you’ve had in years, and you really can get more house for your money. I talk to many people who are waiting to buy at the bottom of the market. The only problem is that they won’t know where that was until we are on the upswing.

So what is coming There are as many opinions on that as there are experts, and in a year some of them will look like geniuses and some will look like dunces. I just come back to the basics:
1. Real estate is a long-term investment
2. Buy what fits your needs, not just because it is a “good deal”. If it doesn’t meet your living and financial needs, it isn’t a good deal for you.
3. If you are looking for a place to live, there is a cost in waiting. If you want to talk about what that is, give me a call.

In the meantime, we will keep monitoring the market and reporting our observations. For weekly updates on current activity, check the blog at www.johnsonteamrealestate.com/blog.



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.