With spring coming soon — and hopefully sunnier weather along with it — more people will be out in neighborhoods checking out open houses.
Odds are, they’ll be seeing higher price tags on those houses.
In February Whatcom County home sellers saw higher prices for their homes than they did a year ago, according to numbers released Monday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. That follows a statewide trend of rising home prices.
Single-family home prices in Whatcom County went up to $310,000, compared with $269,000 in February 2015. That’s a 15.2-percent increase year over year, above the 8.6-percent average increase for the entire state.
The price of condos similarly increased, going up 15.4 percent, from $143,000 last February to $163,000 last month. Although that is not as high as the state average increase of nearly 20 percent.
“This market squeezes all the fun out of buying a home,” said Frank Wilson, immediate past chair of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service board, in a news release. “Prospective purchasers who are coming up short tend to be first-time buyers or those who are using anything other than cash or conventional loans.”
Whatcom County has a 15.6 percent fewer homes available on the market now than it did just a year ago.
There were 792 homes listed in the county in February. That’s down from 938 in February 2015. It’s a trend being seen all over Western Washington.
“Buyer frustration continues to build as inventory levels drop and a mixed quality of homes comes on market,” said George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties, in the release.
With so few homes on the market, that’s setting up for a “crazy spring real estate market,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott
“Houses are being gobbled up as soon as they come on the market,” Scott said.
The number of pending sales were up in Whatcom County, while the number of closed sales were down year over year. Real estate agents logged 340 pending sales for the month up, 6.6 percent from the same month a year ago, which had 319 pending sales. The number of closed sales was 174 last month, down from 196 in 2015, or decrease of 11.2 percent.
With so few homes on the market, it will be an intense spring shopping season.
“We’ll start to see an explosion in the amount of sales activity for the next eight months,” Scott said in the news release. “That’s the good news. The bad news? Market conditions still require buyers to make an instant response because there are so many other hungry buyers out there.”