Falling inventory and rising prices in Whatcom County real estate could lead to a seller’s market, according to a report on the first quarter of 2015 by Lylene Johnson, a real estate agent with the Muljat Group.
Johnson has tracked the local real estate market for years using data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
The median price of first quarter home sales in the county rose 8.3 percent in comparison to the first quarter of 2014 to $269,950, according to Johnson’s report.
The data varies widely by area within Whatcom County, with Lynden experiencing the biggest increase in median sales price with a jump of 23.7 percent to $297,950. Bellingham’s median price increased 15.9 percent to $310,500 and Ferndale’s median prices increased 10 percent to $275,000.
An increase in sales of homes in more expensive areas is significantly influencing the increase in median price, Johnson said in her report.
Johnson’s report divides the county into seven areas. Median home prices decreased in just two areas—Nooksack Valley and Sudden Valley. Median home prices in Nooksack Valley decreased 5.9 percent and in Sudden Valley they decreased 8.8 percent.
Countywide, 537 homes sold in the first quarter, a 17.2 percent increase when compared to the same period in 2014. Most of those homes were sold outside of Bellingham.
In Lynden, 66 homes sold in the first quarter, a 73.7 percent increase over last year. Ferndale saw a 38.8 percent increase. The Bellingham market only saw a 2 percent increase in sales. The number of homes decreased in just one area in the county, Sudden Valley, where it fell by 23.7 percent.
Johnson’s report identified a declining number of homes for sale in Bellingham as a factor in higher prices and the small increase in homes sold in Bellingham relative to other areas.
In mid-March, 213 homes were for sale in Bellingham, a 30 percent decrease from last year and the lowest monthly number in more than two years, Johnson’s report said. The number of sales pending was up 14 percent in March following a 16 percent increase in February. If that trend continues, Johnson said, it will lead to higher prices.
According to the latest date from Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the months of inventory, a measure of how many months it would take for all the homes on the market to sell, is down 32.67 percent from last year.
The figure was 5.60 percent in March 2014, and 3.77 percent in March 2015.