After the first half saw sales and prices stabilize, and in some cases actually rise a bit over 2010, July was a mixed story.  The number of homes sold in Bellingham was down 19% and Ferndale was down 30%.  On the other hand, every other area except Nooksack Valley was up substantially, from 47% in Birch Bay/Blaine and 67% in Sudden Valley to 100% in Lynden.  Average and median prices, on the other hand, were down everywhere but Sudden Valley, where the average was up by 38% and the median by 33%.

From June to July, sales were down almost across the board.  Lynden was up by 1 sale and the Mt. Baker area doubled, but all other areas dropped, with Whatcom County as a whole down 15% in unit sales from June.  Prices were down across the board, except for the median in Bellingham, which actually increased 13.5% (more about that later)!   Whatcom County as a whole posted declines in the average prices of 7% and in the median of 2%. 

            So in Bellingham, how can unit sales fall, average prices fall and median prices rise by 13.5%?  The table below explains.  If there are 11 sales, the median is the price of the 6th sale…half are above it and half are below it.  As you can see in the table, the biggest unit drop was in the lowest price range, so the median moved up.  Relatively speaking, the upper price ranges (particularly from $300,000 to $500,000) lost fewer sales.

July 2010 Price Ranges in $1000s

Total Sales Volume

Total Units Sold

Average Sales Price

% of Market

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






300 to <500















July 2011 Price Ranges in $1000s

Total Sales Volume

Total Units Sold

Average Sales Price

% of Market

Unit Change

Average Price Change








300 to <500






















So why are July numbers so much softer than June?  It could be concern over the debt crisis outcome that was recently “settled”.  If that is the case, the malaise could hold on for a while since the settlement left many questions unanswered and also pointed up how difficult it is for the federal governing bodies to reach agreement.  That does not bode well for resolution of future issues.  It could simply reflect uncertainty on the part of borrowers who are following the national economic and employment figures.
Leading indicators of inventory levels and pending sales are still good…inventory is lower than in just 1 of the past 5 years.  Pending sales are up 11% over last year, although I do have a concern with the validity of that number.  Consistently, short sales have been running 25% to 30% of pending sales…but in July they were only 3.6% of closed sales.  In short, they constitute a bulge in the pending sales which tends to just sit there, rather than roll through.       

The market seems to be shakey.  Historically, there are more sales in July than June, but not this year.  The drop in the below $300,000 price range is worrisome, since that is always about half our market, and the drop in the stock market will undoubtedly have an impact on upper end sales.

In the chart above, note sales in May…last year’s high point…and the relative flatness of the sales curve.  Trendlines are still down.

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.