Whatcom County home values up 2.4 percent in fourth quarter


It's a slow and steady rise when it comes to Whatcom County home values, according to a new federal report.

Home values in this area rose 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to a year earlier, according to data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency. That's right around the level of increase posted in the third quarter (3.1 percent) and second quarter (3.4 percent) of 2013.

Whatcom County home values are 9.1 percent lower than the fourth quarter of 2008.

The rise in home appreciation remains significant in the Seattle area, according to the report. Seattle's home values jumped 10 percent in the fourth quarter, slightly higher than the third quarter year-over-year increase. In Skagit County, home values appreciated 7 percent in the fourth quarter.

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.

In Washington, the purchase-only index was up 6.8 percent, ranking it 17th highest. Nevada topped the list, increasing 24.3 percent.

Metro areas in California and Nevada dominated the list of highest rates of appreciation. Modesto topped the list, rising 28.5 percent. Rockford, Ill., had the lowest rate of appreciation, dropping 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter.

Across the U.S., the index rose 1.2 percent.

"Home price appreciation in the fourth quarter was considerable, but more modest than in recent periods," said FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis, in a news release accompanying the data. "It is too early to know whether the lower quarter growth rate represents the beginning of more normalized price appreciation patterns or a more significant slowdown."

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Business Blog at bellinghamherald.com/business-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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