It continues to be a busy spring for Whatcom County real estate agents as home sales are approaching levels last seen before the housing bubble burst.
Local agents sold 279 houses and condominiums in May, the highest monthly total since September 2007, according to data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The May 2013 total is 38.8 percent higher than the same period a year earlier.
The median price of the properties sold rose 6.4 percent in the past year to $250,000, but that's an indication of more higher-end homes selling than home appreciation, said Darin Stenvers, branch manager at the John L. Scott office in Barkley Village.
"What we're seeing is a more balanced market as more upper-end homes are starting to move," Stenvers said.
Overall sales were up substantially in Bellingham, Ferndale and Sudden Valley, and up slightly in most of the other Whatcom communities.
What's helped in sales is the increase in choices. Last month Whatcom County had 552 new house and condo listings, up 23.5 percent compared to April. Stenvers said he's noticed an uptick in the number of newly constructed homes coming on the market, a segment that's been in short supply in recent years.
The one concern Stenvers has is rising interest rates, which he said have gone up three-quarters of a point. He expects interest rates to stabilize at this higher level but said it's something to watch closely.
Whatcom County followed the overall trend across much of the rest of Washington. In the 21 counties the NWMLS serves, agents sold 7,349 homes and condos last month, a 21.9 percent increase compared to a year earlier. The median price for those homes sold was $275,000, a 13.4 percent increase compared to a year earlier.
In Skagit County, agents sold 149 houses and condos in May, a 38 percent year-over-year increase. The median price of those homes was $220,020, a 9.2 percent increase.