After a long, hard-hitting recession that left home sales in a backslide for the past few years, the housing market is finally regaining its strength, and for Whatcom County, it’s mostly good news all around.
In 2013, Whatcom County residential sales surged 14.5 percent and sale prices showed modest gains as well, according to an analysis from local real estate expert Lylene Johnson, a real estate agent at the Muljat Group. Johnson also reports that the median price of homes showed a 4 percent increase over 2012 numbers, with averages of $259,950 for new purchases.
In addition, 2,390 residential units were sold in 2013, the county’s highest sales since 2007, according to Johnson.
Johnson analyzed data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service and her historical records to calculate comprehensive
statistics for Whatcom County and local communities.
The Bellingham market accounted for 47 percent of the county’s residential sales last year. The city’s sales rose 17.6 percent and its median sales price jumped 7.5 percent to $295,000.
Other communities showed even stronger gains: Sudden Valley was up 32.5 percent and Birch Bay/Blaine jumped 27 percent. Ferndale posted a 11.4 percent sales gain and 6.8 percent increase in median price. The county’s second largest city, Lynden, went against the grain with sales dropping 9.2 percent and the median price remaining steady at $255,000.
Johnson said the county’s unit sales, median price and average price all have risen steadily in the past two years but are still below peak levels. Unit sales in 2013 were 15 percent below 2006, average price is down 13 percent from 2007 and median price is 8 percent below 2007.
“We’re having plenty of activity in Birch Bay and Blaine,” said Windermere realtor Mike Kent. “Prices are ratcheting up enough in Bellingham that first-time homebuyers are looking farther north for more affordable opportunities and to get more for their money. I don’t think we’re going to see prices rise more than 2 to 4 percent, which is good for us because it’s sustainable.”
Kent said construction is also up in the area, which is a good sign for the market. “Spec builders are back in action,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a robust year for home sales this coming year.”