After a rather scary July in the Whatcom County housing market, August brought a number of pleasant surprises:

  • More homes sold in Bellingham & Whatcom County as a whole than in any other month this year.  This is the first time in 6 years that has happened in Bellingham and only the second for the entire County.  June and July typically see the highest number of sales.
  • August sales matched 2010 sales in Bellingham and were up almost 21% for the County as a whole.
  • Lynden sales were incredible…up 183% over last year and higher than any year of the past 6.
  • Ferndale sales weren’t too bad either, doubling from last year and the highest since 2007.

            And then there was the pricing story:

  • Average sale prices in Bellingham dropped 5.8% from 2010 and 9.2% from July of this year.
  • Average sale prices in all of Whatcom County dropped 6.1% from 2010 and 2.2% from July of this year.
  • Lynden prices held the best, with the average actually increasing 3.8%.
  • Sudden Valley was hit the hardest, with both median & average prices down by 35% or more.

So what the heck is going on?  Let’s start by going back to the sales distribution numbers for Bellingham. Note the 61.4% of sales <$300,000.  Last year it was 50.6%, in 2009 it was 42.4%.

August 2010 Price Ranges in $1000's

Total 2010  August $ Sales

Total Units Sold

Average Sales Price

% of Market

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







300 to <500
















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 to <500





















More of the sales are in a lower price point.  This could happen for three reasons:

  • As prices drop, more homes move down into lower price ranges.
  • More people can afford to buy lower priced homes.
  • As prices come down, real estate makes more sense as an investment, bring more investors into the market.  August was a bit soon for the gyrations of the stock market to show up in real estate sales, so they may have an impact on the September numbers.

For a longer view of our housing prices, take a look at the following.  Whatcom County has seen the following changes in residential prices since 2006:

Bellingham Average:               Down 12.8%               Bellingham Median:                Down 11.5%
Ferndale Average:                   Down 16%                  Ferndale Median:                    Down 12.9%
Sudden Valley Average:         Down 28%                  Sudden Valley Median:          Down 32.2%
Birch Bay/Blaine Average:     Down 22.3%               Birch Bay/Blaine Median:      Down 20.4%
Lynden Average:                    Down 8.7%                 Lynden Median:                     Down 8.8%
All County Average:               Down 15.6%               All County Median:                Down 11.6%

This has caused a lot of pain for a lot of people, and even if prices stabilize, we will all be dealing with the fallout for a long time to come in the form of short sales & foreclosures.  It has also brought opportunity to other people, for whom prices made a home out of reach during the bubble.

But let’s end on a high note:  what’s going on in Lynden & Ferndale?  Sales are up, prices are holding steady…what are those people doing?  There are undoubtedly a number of factors, but one thing is clear:  they both have new construction housing stock to offer, the builders are offering a good product with market pricing and their markets are small enough for it to really impact the total numbers.   

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.