Paul's Bellingham Blog

My thoughts on Bellingham, the Real Estate market, and more

Bellingham Washington 2010 Overview

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December statistics are out, and they are mixed, but definitely positive over all. Pending sales were up 28% in Bellingham in December of 2010, compared to December 2009 (50 pending sales compared to 38 a year ago).

You can see from the chart above, (following the red line of pending home sales) the winter of 2009, through 2010 was a very up and down period. To make sense of the chart above, the $8,000 tax credit was set to expire in October of 2009 (see the bump in pending sales in October). Then it was extended, so we saw another boom in sales in April of 2010 at the deadline of the new extension. Sales jumped to there highest level in a few years, and prices actually spiked up temporarily in the lower end of the market. Then this summer and fall, the market endured a predictable hangover after the tax credit expired. Home prices slid down in pretty much every market segment in the county and through out Northwest Washington.

But looking at the year over all, home values dropped less than 4% in most price ranges, and in most areas of Whatcom County. 

Looking at the chart below, you can see the average sales price of Bellingham homes has been going back and forth between $260,000 and $300,000 for over a year.  The one consistent trend you can find here, is sellers have been getting more “real” about home pricing, and there has been a steady drop in the average list price of homes.

Buyers have been responding, and definitely jumping all over good deals–especially in the most sought after locations in Bellingham. You can see the gap between the average sales price and the average list price has been closing in. This is definitely a positive indicator.

Bellingham also enters 2011 with less than 7 months worth of inventory, which is a very ideal number that showed balance in the market. But reviewing all of these statistics, the  key trends are: 1) Prices remain soft and have decline slightly in 2010. 2) Inventory has been shrinking this winter. 3) Bellingham pending home sales were up in the last month, and last quarter of 2010.

Whatcom County  however, is still showing higher inventory levels (around 9 months supply) so this suggests prices are still coming down in many areas of the county…but very slowly.

Looking to 2011, it’s hard to foresee any dramatic up or down swings like 2010. 2011 seems on course for a slow but steady stabilization in home prices and home sales. Inventory will hopefully continue to slowly decline from the levels of 2009 and 2010.

For those wondering if there will be a “double dip”, I don’t see it. Interest rates should remain low, and values have dropped enough over the last 3 years to where most buyers realize it’s a good time to buy. Our local economy has a lower unemployment rate (8%) than the state and national average, and continue to see many relocating to our community, as well as many Canadian’s investing as well.

But until we get better economic news nationally, AND more of a slowdown in the foreclosure rate, prices could remain soft in 2011, especially in the county. 

For buyers, there will continue to be incredible opportunities. And for sellers, it is an ideal time to move-up—since home prices have taken a bigger hit in the upper end. You can take the loss on your home sale, but more than make up for it with your purchase.  

For everyone else. A nice stat came out on last month- More than 90% of HomeOwners still don’t regret buying the home they currently own. That includes many people who are currently upside down and have no equity right now. I think that says a lot of things–but most note-ably–that most believe that over time, the market will rebound. We may indeed be in for a very slow rebound, but clearly most still have faith in homeownership and the long term future of the Real Estate market.

For more information or any questions, feel free to contact me here.