An uptick in property activity in the Blaine and Birch Bay area last month could mean a boost to the local economy.
Last month a major piece of property on Birch Bay was sold to a Canadian Investment Group. North America Chen's Holdings LLP, purchased the former Sea Links Golf Course and CJ's Beach House restaurant on Tuesday, Aug. 21. The property was formerly owned by Homestead Northwest before it was taken over by Union Bank. Soon after the sale it was announced that Jack Niemann signed papers to put in a new restaurant at CJ's.
A major residential project, the Marin Condominiums, was restarted after years of sitting inactive near the Semiahmoo Spit.
These transactions will mean some construction jobs as well as new tenants in the restaurant and possibly the golf course, but it also points toward increased interest in other property in other parts of Whatcom County.
"Essentially all these distressed properties have dropped to such a price point that it is attracting groups to come in and finish these jobs," said Mike Kent of Windermere Real Estate last month. "It's become value driven."
With some properties starting to look like a value again and the Canadian dollar remaining strong, agents including Kent are expecting more real estate transactions in the coming months.
Other significant events that took place in August:
Gas prices continue to rise in Bellingham. The average price for a gallon of gas in the Bellingham metro area was $4.19 on Aug. 27 and stayed around that level into the first week of September, according to AAA Washington.
Through court documents, it was revealed in August that a deal is in the works to buy the Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine.
The Fairhaven area now has a major hardware store. Last month the Whatcom Farmer's Co-op, also known as WFC, had a soft opening in the former Market at Fairhaven grocery store building on Old Fairhaven Parkway. The store itself is WFC's other retail outlets in the county, but it has partnered with True Value to offer additional hardware products in its 40,000-square-foot store, said manager Russ Stewart.
A cool spring and some untimely rains made the raspberry harvest challenging for Whatcom County commercial farmers. It was a down year for raspberries, possibly a "double-digit" percentage drop in quantity, said Henry Bierlink, executive director of the Washington Red Raspberry Commission. Total harvest figures aren't expected to be released until later this year. In 2011 Whatcom farmers harvested 66.3 million pounds of raspberries, a 22 percent increase compared to 2010 and the record highest one-season total, according to data from the Washington Red Raspberry Commission.
The Lummi Gateway Center celebrated its official opening in August. New businesses in the center include the Schelangen Seafood Market, Lummi Gateway Café and Lummi Gateway Arts and Crafts.
By the numbers
Whatcom County quarterly retail sales
Q1 2012: $716.1 million
Q4 2011: $828.1 million
Q1 2011: $657.7 million
Quarterly change: down 13.5 percent
Year-over-year change: up 8.9 percent
Six-year quarterly high: $873.4 million, fourth quarter, 2007
Six -year quarterly low: $624.4 million, first quarter 2009
Whatcom County bankruptcies
July 2012: 47
June 2012: 48
July 2011: 60
Monthly change: down 2.1 percent
Year-over-year change: down 21.7 percent
Six -year monthly high: 83, February 2010
Six -year monthly low: 11, February 2006
Whatcom County auto sales
July 2012: 263
June 2012: 326
July 2011: 243
Monthly change: down 19.3 percent
Year-over-year change: up 8.2 percent
Six-year monthly high: 553, May 2006
Six-year monthly low: 140, December 2008
Whatcom County residential sales
August 2012: 262
July 2012: 224
August 2011: 250
Monthly change: up 17 percent
Year-over-year change: up 4.8 percent
Six -year monthly high: 398, August 2007
Six-year monthly low: 104, February 2009
Unincorporated Whatcom County building permit values
July 2012: $6.7 million
June 2012: $8 million
July 2011: $65.3 million
Monthly change: down 16.3 percent
Year-over-year change: down 89.7 percent
Five-year monthly high: $65.3 million, July 2011
Five-year monthly low: $2.6 million, January 2012
Whatcom County foreclosures
July 2012: 45
June 2012: 35
July 2011: 70
Monthly change: up 28.6 percent
Year-over-year change: down 35.7 percent
Six -year monthly high: 153, April 2009
Six-year monthly low: 17, September 2007
Median price of homes sold in Whatcom County
August 2012: $237,250
July 2012: $254,800
August 2011: 234,750
Monthly change: down 6.9 percent
Year-over-year change: up 1.1 percent
Six-year monthly high: $280,450, May 2007
Six-year monthly low: $208,000, November 2011
Whatcom homes newly listed for sale
August 2012: 414
July 2012: 399
August 2011: 414
Monthly change: up 3.8 percent
Year-over-year change: no change
Six-year monthly high: 707, May 2007
Six-year monthly low: 131, December 2011
Bellingham airport traffic
July 2012: 55,407
June 2012: 49,720
July 2011: 51,421
Monthly change: up 11.4 percent
Year-over-year change: up 7.8 percent.
Six-year monthly high: 55,407, July 2012
Six-year monthly low: 12,597, September 2010
End of August 2012: 99 cents
End of July 2012: $1
End of August 2011: $1.01
Six-year high: $1.07, November 2007
Six-year low: 77 cents, March 2009
Southbound Canadian border crossings into Whatcom County
June 2012: 1,326,464
May 2012: 1,317,092
June 2011: 1,180,623
Monthly change: up less than 1 percent
Year-over-year change: up 12.4 percent
Five-year monthly high: 1,540,776 August 2011
Five-year monthly low: 645,792 October 2006
Bellingham building permit values
July 2012: $44.6 million
June 2012: $8.1 million
July 2011: $10.2 million
Monthly change: up 451 percent
Year-over-year change: up 337 percent
Six-year monthly high: $47.3 million, December 2009
Six-year monthly low: $1.1 million, November 2008
Ferndale building permit values
July 2012: $2.7 million
June 2012: $2.9 million
July 2011: $2.9 million
Monthly change: down 6.9 percent
Year-over-year change: down 6.9 percent
Five-year monthly high: $12.9 million, July 2007
Five-year monthly low: $0.2 million, January 2009
Whatcom County construction jobs
July 2012: 6,400
June 2012: 6,200 (revised)
July 2011: 5,800
Monthly change: up 3.2 percent
Year-over-year change: up 10.3 percent
Six-year monthly high: 8,600, September 2006
Six-year monthly low: 5,000, December 2010
Whatcom County unemployment
Whatcom July 2012: 7.6 percent
Whatcom June 2012: 7.3 percent (revised)
Whatcom July 2011: 8.3 percent
State July 2012 (seasonably adjusted): 8.5 percent
Nation July 2012 (seasonably adjusted): 8.3 percent.
Six-year monthly high: 10.4 percent, February 2010
Six-year monthly low: 3.7 percent, October 2007
SOURCES: Washington State Department of Revenue; U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Washington; Cross-Sell; Washington State Department of Licensing; Northwest Multiple Listing Service; Whatcom County Planning and Development Services; Bank of Canada; Port of Bellingham; RealtyTrac; Center For Economics and Business Research, Western Washington University; City of Bellingham; Washington State Employment Security Department.
Market Report runs each month.
Reach DAVE GALLAGHER at email@example.com or call 715-2269. Visit his business blog online at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/business or get updates on Twitter at twitter.com/BhamHeraldBiz.