Whatcom County's Q2 home sales reach new highs

Home sales in Whatcom County have reached their highest level since 2007, according to an analysis of market activity in the second quarter of 2013 by Lylene Johnson of The Muljat Group.

Sales from the second quarter this year rose 18.6 percent to 656 compared the same quarter one year ago, according to Johnson’s analysis. The Whatcom County communities of Bellingham, Blaine/Birch Bay, Ferndale and Sudden Valley saw sales increases of more than 20 percent.

It is the strongest activity since 803 homes were sold in Whatcom County during the second quarter of 2007.

Johnson, who has tracked trends in the local market for more than a decade, based her report on data from the Northwest Washington Multiple Listing Service, a broker-owned organization based in Kirkland that serves 21 counties in Washington and includes more than 21,000 broker members.

The upward trend in sales activity is good news for the county’s housing sector, Johnson said.

The median price on homes sold in Whatcom County rose 1.9 percent to $265,000 in the second quarter of 2013, compared to the same quarter from the previous year. The average price was $297,711, a 3.4 percent increase.

The amount of time a house sits on the market before it sells is also reaching new lows, according to the analysis.

For Whatcom County homes sold in the second quarter of 2013, the average number of days on the market was 106, the shortest amount of time since the second quarter of 2006.

Johnson said the shorter amount time homes sit on the market could be a strong sign that more houses that have been available for extended periods of time are beginning to sell. It also indicates that there is simply more demand from buyers, she said.

But while sales are up, the inventory of homes in many price ranges is still tight, Johnson said. With fewer options, pressure will remain on buyers, who are going to have to compete with the multiple offers that sellers are likely to receive, she added.

“The pressure for buyers is going to stay there,” Johnson said. “I don’t see that changing, not in the short term.”

Buyers and sellers must also contend with a recent rise in mortgage rates. But Johnson believes rate spikes might actually help sellers in the future by pushing undecided buyers, fearful of rates going even higher, into the market.

Whatcom County housing market activity, Q2 2013

Entire county
Median sale price: $265,500 (up 1.9 percent from Q2 2012)
Average sale price: $297,771 (up 3.4 percent)
Units sold: 656 (up 18.6 percent)
Days on market: 106 (down 21.5 percent)

Bellingham
Median sale price: $300,000 (up 2.7 percent)
Average sale price: $347,263 (up 0.3 percent)
Units sold: 317 (up 29.4 percent)
Days on Market: 85 (down 23.4 percent)

Birch Bay/Blaine
Median sale price: $237,450 (up 3.2 percent)
Average sale price: $265,601(up 1.4 percent)
Units sold: 70 (up 22.8 percent)
Days on market: 125 (down 34.2 percent)

Ferndale
Median sale price: $266,500 (up 3.1 percent)
Average sale price: $267,071 (up 0.6 percent)
Units sold: 88 (up 22.2 percent)
Days on market: 97 (down 31.7 percent)

Lynden
Median sale price: $266,806 (down 0.4 percent)
Average sale price: $295,868 (up 4.0 percent)
Units sold: 59 (down 10.6 percent)
Days on market: 112 (down 17.6 percent)

Mount Baker
Median sale price: $100,000 (up 20.5 percent)
Average sale price: $133,535 (down 14.1 percent)
Units sold: 36 (down 2.7 percent)
Days on market: 183 (up 15.1 percent)

Nooksack Valley
Median sale price: $228,000 (up 10.7 percent)
Average sale price: $212,350 (down 8.5 percent)
Units sold: 20 (down 20.0 percent)
Days on market: 137 (down 1.4 percent)

Sudden Valley
Median sale price: $213,900 (up 8.5 percent)
Average sale price: $223,126 (up 6.9 percent)
Units sold: 47 (up 46.9 percent)
Days on market: 138 (down 6.8 percent)

Source: Lylene Johnson, The Muljat Group  

Evan Marczynski, staff reporter for The Bellingham Business Journal, can be reached at 360-647-8805, Ext. 5052, or evan@bbjtoday.com

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