Home prices continue to rise, despite increased listings in June

BBJ Staff

A little relief may be in sight for Whatcom County homebuyers. More inventory came back on the market in June, indicating a little more breathing room for home buyers who are facing tough competition. Inventory continues to shrink, however. In June, there were just 2.5 months of inventory on the market, according to a release from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which is down from 2.54 in May.

In June, 524 new homes hit the market, up from 474 in May. In June of 2015, there were about the same — 527 — new listings. The total number of listings is still way down, however, a whopping 21.65 percent fewer listings than in June of 2015.

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott, Inc. said in the release the combination of more inventory coming on the market plus lower interest rates is bringing “welcome relief to the backlog of buyers who have been waiting to purchase a home.”

Prices are still on the rise, however. In the county, the median price of a deal closed in June was $299,000 for single-family homes and condos. For just single-family homes, the median price was $316,000. For condos, it was $210,000.

Scott’s analysis of the statewide data shows that there were fewer multiple offers for each new listing, but said that for the most part, 80 percent of new listings are selling within the first 30 days. In a more balanced market, only about 30 percent of listings sell in the first 30 days.

Real estate agents across the state are noticing that buyers are making more sacrifices in terms of what they wanted in a home in order to be closer to jobs or schools.

George Moorhead, a Northwest MLS board member, said those sacrifices, plus the fact that buyers are making large down payments — sometimes to cover the difference between the sales prices and the appraised value of the house — is creating an unsustainable market.

Some experts are saying that Britain’s vote to exit the European Union could further impact the housing market.

“Uncertain economic times almost always lead to a ‘flight to safety,’ which means global capital pouring into the United States bond market at an aggressive rate,” Windermere President OB Jacobi said. On the one hand, that may drive interest rates down even further, but there’s a downside for homebuyers in an already competitive market.

“Lower interest rates will likely draw more buyers into the market, compounding already competitive conditions, and driving up home prices even further,” he said.

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