Paul's Bellingham Blog

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

Market Update: Looking back at 2011 and What’s Ahead in 2012

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In looking at all of the numbers from 2012, their is many positive signs. Year over year, sales were up slightly, yet inventory has come down note-ably in all areas and price ranges in Whatcom County.

The most recent snapshot of Whatcom County home sales is December (see chart below). 144 homes closed in December of 2010, and exactly 144 homes also sold in December of 2011. Pretty amazing how that number is exactly the same. But the good news was that inventory dropped from 1,287 homes available in 2010, to 1,150 in 2011.  And pending home sales (homes under contract) rose slightly from 97 at the end of 2010, to 102 at the end of 2011. That is the good news..

The sobering numbers are found looking at home prices. The average dollar per sq foot a home was selling for in December of 2010 was $157, compared to $134 at the end of 2011, and the medium home price dropped from $252,000 to $229,000.

So values have still been dropping substantially over the last year in Whatcom County, but the numbers vary depending on the city and price range within the County you are in.

Bellingham home values were down less then 4% in 2011, compared to most areas of the county experiencing between 5 and 7% drops in home value. Sudden Valley took the biggest hit, with home values dropping by 8% in 2011.

So home values have continued to slowly decline, but all signs point to that trend slowing down and values leveling out. This is especially true in Bellingham, and in the lower end of the market (under $300,000).

So what’s the take away?

For sellers who are serious about pricing there home right, there is less competition, and homes are selling faster.  And with prices leveling out in most areas of the market, you can price your home right and have a good chance of selling and getting a reasonable offer. The other good news is the average home is selling closer to asking price right now then it was a year ago. Buyers are paying an average of 96% of list price compared to an average of 94% of list price in 2010. More and more of the really good deals are seeing multiple offers again as well!

For buyers, interest rates are back down at all-time lows (around 4.0% for 30 year lock) and there is opportunities every day in this market.  So it will continue to be an excellent time to buy in 2012.

2011 Mid-Year Market Update

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The 1st half statistics for Whatcom County Real Estate for 2011 show a trend that is generally positive. Home sales are steady and very similar to last years numbers, but the amount of homes for sale has been steadily down from 2010, month over month. In June of 2010 there was 1,846 homes for sale in Whatcom County, compared to 1,579 at the end of June.

Pending home sales this summer have also increased, with 228 pending home sales at the end of June 2011, compared to just 160 pending sales in June of 2010.

These are good indicators that we may indeed be at or very near the “bottom” as far as home values go. Looking at the chart, it appears the Whatcom County Real Estate market is improving in a meaningful way over the last few months. But there is still a steady flow of home foreclosures and shortsales coming on the market, which will keep prices down for the fore-see able future.

In summary, with interest rates at near all time low levels, and home values nearing or at the bottom (depending on price range and neighborhood), this is with out question a good time to buy. For home owners, there is no sign yet of any current rebound in home values..BUT pending home sales increasing this summer, and inventory shrinking, is the first step to prices leveling out, and then slowly appreciating again.