Bellingham and Whatcom County real estate sales continued to fall in October from numbers posted in 2007 - except in Lynden, where the number of residential sales doubled over last year. Other areas of Whatcom County dropped by 26% in Bellingham to 63% & 64% in Ferndale and Nooksack Valley. Total Whatcom County residential units sold were off 37% (down from 220 homes last October to 138 this year).

Average sales prices in Bellingham dropped substantially as well, from $359,101 in October 2007 to $306,738 in October 2008. The median drop was less dramatic, from $314,450 in 2007 to $293,500 this year.

Prices have been fairly strong throughout Whatcom County, so the October numbers were a bit of surprise. It seems to have been caused not so much by a decline in prices, but by a shift in the price ranges being sold. The number of residences sold in Bellingham under $300,000 was actually slighter higher than last year, but the number sold from $300,000 to $500,000 dropped by 39%, from $500,000 to $750,000 by 56%, and there were no sales over $550,000, compared to 7 in October of 2007.

Average days on market increased 16% in Bellingham and 19% in Whatcom County as a whole. There are also fewer homes selling within the first 30 days of a listing. 32% of Bellingham homes did so in 2007, but just 23% did so in 2008.

These numbers sound pretty grim, but we need to look at the context. The table below shows the percentage decline in the number of residences sold in Bellingham and Whatcom County since last April. What we see is that the decline has actually slowed in Bellingham, even with the increasing chaos in the financial markets. Other areas in Whatcom County saw major slides in October 2008 – perhaps the effect of those high gas prices were showing up.

Decline in Residential Units Sold frm Oct. 2007 to Oct. 2009
  April May June July August Sept Oct
23% 41% 33% 31% 38% 21% 26%
Whatcom County
18% 40% 38% 25% 38% 11% 37%

Bellingham and Whatcom County real estate has definitely seen rosier times, but relative to other areas of the country, we are looking pretty healthy. Advice to Sellers: pay attention to your list price – particularly in the higher price ranges. The longer you are on the market, the less money you will get for your house. The market is always looking for the new blood, and it is very seldom that a buyer will come back and look again even if you drop the price. Advice to Buyers: there are some great buys out there, particularly in

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