Overall Whatcom County home values have begun to appreciate for the first time in nearly five years, according to a new federal report.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency estimates that local home values rose 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to a year earlier. It's the first time since the second quarter of 2008 that Whatcom County posted a year-over-year increase in home values.
Kennewick, Seattle and Wenatchee were the only other major metro areas in Washington to post an increase for that time period.
Lower inventory and low interest rates are factors that have helped this market when it comes to home values, said Julie Hansen, economics professor at Western Washington University.
"I think there is a good chance that prices will rise in 2013," Hansen said in an email, adding that local employment is growing, and the number of people moving into this area is starting to pick up.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency uses home purchases and refinance data from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to come up with its all-transactions home price index for metro areas. It uses only home purchases for the state index.
According to the purchase-only index, Washington state home values are rising significantly. Washington's index in the fourth quarter of 2012 was up 9.4 percent compared to a year earlier, ranking it 11th highest in the U.S.
Arizona (up 21.6 percent in the past year) and Nevada (up 19.7 percent) topped the list, while South Carolina (down 0.8 percent) and New Hampshire (down 1.1 percent) were at the bottom.
Bismarck, N.D., was the metro area that experienced the highest year-over-year appreciation, at 13.4 percent, followed by several metro areas hit hard by the real estate bubble burst, including in Arizona and California.
The Washington communities of Longview (down 3.7 percent) and Tacoma (down 3.2 percent) were among the 20 areas with the lowest rates of house appreciation in the country.
Changes in the all-transaction home price index for Washington metro areas from the fourth quarter of 2012:
|Bellingham||up 0.9%||down 14.2%|
|Bremerton||down 3%||down 25.1%|
|Kennewick||up 1.4%||up 5.8%|
|Longview||down 3.7%||down 25.8%|
|Mount Vernon||down 2.8%||down 26%|
|Olympia||down 2.7%||down 23.1%|
|Seattle||up 2%||down 23.1%|
|Spokane||down 1.8%||down 18.4%|
|Tacoma||down 3.2%||down 30%|
|Wenatchee||up 0.1%||down 17.8%|
|Yakima||down 0.2%||down 4.2%|
|SOURCE: Federal Housing Finance Agency|
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