Home values in Whatcom County continue to appreciate


For sale sign

A for sale sign in front of a home.


Overall home values in Whatcom County continue to appreciate, following a trend taking place throughout much of the country, according to a new federal report.

Local home values rose 1.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared to a year earlier, according to data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency. It's the second straight quarter of year-over-year increases after more than four years of declines.

Home values in the Bellingham metro area are expected to continue to appreciate slowly in the coming quarters, said Glenn Crellin, associate director at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington.

"This is an environment where there's enough positive things happening that Bellingham should continue to see steady growth, especially if interest rates stay this low," Crellin said.

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.

Washington state continues to see significant home appreciation. According to the data, the purchase-only index shows Washington homes appreciated 10.8 percent in the past year, ranking it eighth-highest in the nation. Nevada had the highest appreciation, followed by Arizona and California.

The Seattle area is the Washington metro experiencing the most significant home appreciation. Price increases in the Seattle area are being driven by extremely low inventories, running less than two months of supply in King and Snohomish counties, said Julia Hansen, an economics professor at Western Washington University.

In Whatcom County, she said inventory has tightened to about a six-month supply, the level that is often considered to be a balanced market.

Nationally Phoenix had the highest one-year appreciation in home values, increasing 15.3 percent, followed by Bismarck, N.D., at 12.8 percent. Kingston, N.Y., had the biggest decrease, dropping 4.5 percent.


Changes in the all-transaction home price index for Washington metro areas from the first quarter of 2013:

CommunityYear-over-year5-year change
Bellinghamup 1.9%down 14.7%
Bremertonup 0.7 %down 23.8%
Kennewickup 1.6%up 6.1%
Longviewdown 0.1%down 25.1%
Mount Vernondown 0.1%down 25.6%
Olympiadown 0.2%down 23.7%
Seattleup 4.7%down 21.9%
Spokaneup 0.3%down 18.1%
Tacomadown 0.6%down 29.8%
Wenatcheeup 0.1%down 17.8%
Yakimaup 1.3%down 5.2%
SOURCE: Federal Housing Finance Agency

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Business blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/business or follow him on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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