Every Thursday I meet with a select group of 18 of the top Real Estate brokers from all of the Real Estate companies in Whatcom County. We meet to promote our listings, stay on top of market trends, discuss local Real Estate news, and to find out about listings coming on the market for our buyers. Here is a video showcasing what the group is all about.
My thoughts on Bellingham, the Real Estate market, and more
Learn about what a short sale is, and tips for home buyers on things to consider before writing an offer on a short sale. This video will be followed by a video helping sellers with the short sale process.
Here is my latest video talking about more interesting facts about Bellingham and Whatcom County
86% of the home sales in Bellingham and Whatcom County in the last 30 days have been homes under $300,000. And in Bellingham, inventory and selection is very low in this price range. The smallest selection we’ve had in over 5 years! That means if you are considering making a move this winter, you need to recognize there is two different markets. If you are interested in buying under $300,000, you really need to recognize it’s a very solid market (possibly on the upswing), especially in Bellingham. The best deals in the best locations are going to sell fast. And if you have a house to sell and you’re waiting until next spring to list, it might makes sense to list your home this winter instead. Lack of selection means lack of competition for sellers.
If you are looking to buy or sell a home over $300,000, it’s very different. Sellers should be more motivated because there is very little activity happening right now. If your buyer, there is some excellent values available.
This video has some incredible shots of Bellingham, Bellingham Bay and Mt Baker. Amazing!
I have helped many sellers short sale there home in Bellingham, and through out Whatcom County, and the most stressful part of the process is the risk of having your home foreclose. That is because up until now, you have been required to start missing mortgage payments before you can start the short sale process. The problem is when you start missing mortgage payments, the foreclosure process begins with most lenders. If the short sale does not go through for some reason, the house can end up foreclosing before the seller has a chance to do anything about it. Next thing you know, the seller is getting evicted, and there credit is hit even worse.
It looks like the Realtor Association is working with lawmakers to fix this obvious flaw in the system. The changes would include allowing owners to short sale without missing any mortgage payments. Hopefully they can work on making this less of a ding to the homeowners credit as well.
The USDA Rural Development program, which is designed to make rural housing more affordable, offers one of the only loans available today that is Zero Down. A rate today with USDA is zero down with about a 3.0% rate locked for 30 years! So really a program that makes buying cheaper then rent in most cases right now.
Currently the only area excluded from the map is the city of Bellingham, and in Skagit County, the city of Mount Vernon. The map is changing, and the city limits of Ferndale, Lynden, Burlington, and Anacortes will soon be excluded as well when they create the new map. The GOOD news is that they just delayed this change from October 1st, to March 27th, 2013! This gives zero down home buyers plenty of time to find to find a home if they want to take advantage of the USDA loan product while it is still available in these Skagit and Whatcom County cities.
If you have questions about this, feel free to give me a call at 360-920-5901, or contact me here.
The Bellingham Herald just reported that Whatcom County Real Estate sales rose 16.6% for the summer of 2012. That is a huge improvement, and one thing to add is the amount of homes for sale has been down at the same time. With inventory down and sales up over the last 2 quarters, prices have begun to stabilize and even tick up a little bit in Bellingham.
Looking at Whatcom County as a whole, the market is improving in all areas and in all price points, going up to about $500,000 in Bellingham, and $400,000 in the county. Above $500,000 (which I consider the “high-end” in our area) sales are up slightly, but it’s still very slow.
But a market rebound always works it’s way up. And a year ago, the under $250,000 range was stabilizing. Now we are seeing a bit of even appreciation in Bellingham under $250,000 and we are seeing the market improve (and prices stabilize) up to $500,000 in Bellingham and most surrounding areas.
Here is the chart for Whatcom County. You can see active listings are down, and pending and closed sales have been up, compared the same months in 2011.
The question I get asked everyday: When will home prices start going up again? I don’t like to pretend to have a crystal ball, but we can look at the long and short term market trends and get a good idea. Compared to the other top 381 cities in the U.S., the stats show Bellingham Real Estate values are not recovering as fast as many other markets. Although home values have begun to stabilize, values are still coming down a bit.
Last Quarter -1.44% Rank: 243 of 381 (36th Percentile)
Last Year -1.8% Rank: 216 of 381 (43rd Percentile)
Last 5 Years -14% Rank: 233 of 381 (38th Percentile)
This is likely due to the fact that our market peaked later than many areas around the country. See below that Bellingham’s market didn’t peaked until 2007, where as many other markets peaked in 2005 or 2006.
Then once it started to decline, we didn’t see the huge drops in value that areas like Las Vegas, and Phoenix experienced. Those markets saw price drops of as much as 30% in a single year!
So we have had a slower decline, which in turn could mean a slower recovery.
But the most encouraging statistic to consider is the long term performance of the Bellingham Real Estate Market. Over the last 20 years, Bellingham has ranked in the top 3% of most appreciating Real Estate markets in the country, with 126% appreciation. That outperforms even the Seattle market, which saw 112% appreciation over the last 20 years.
Last 10 Years 57% Rank: 11 of 381 (97th Percentile)
Last 20 Years 126% Rank: 29 of 361 (92nd Percentile)
So while the short term forecast is cloudy, we can see clear evidence that Bellingham Real Estate has proven to be an incredible investment over the long term.
The trends are different in every city in Whatcom County, and even in every neighborhood and price range. For a more accurate and unique -no obligation assessment of your specific market, contact me today.