Real estate values continue to increase steadily across Whatcom County, getting closer to pre-recession levels.
Local home values appreciated 4.9 percent in the second quarter compared to a year earlier, according to data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency. All of Washington's major metro areas posted a year-over-year increase, with a few places posting values above five years ago.
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. Across the U.S., the home price index rose 5.2 percent compared to a year ago.
The report noted that nationally the index is about the same level as July 2005 and about 6 percent lower than the peak of April 2007.
Gragg Miller of Coldwell Banker Bain estimates home values in the Bellingham area are down about 8 percent from the peak. Prices in 2014 are increasing at a steady rate, similar to last year.
"The last two years, it's been a nice, steady climb," said Miller, who expects that trend to continue for the short term.
Miller said the reason for improving home values include a drop in distressed property, a rise in new construction and an increase in the number of people moving here from outside Whatcom County.
Metro areas hardest hit by the real estate bubble burst continue to have the biggest appreciation gains, according to the report. Seven of the top 10 metro areas with the biggest gains are in California, including Modesto (up 25 percent year over year) and Merced (up 24.5 percent).
Lima, Ohio, had the biggest year-over-year drop in home values, down 3.5 percent.
HOME APPRECIATION IN WASHINGTON METRO AREAS
Changes in the all-transaction home price index for Washington metro areas from the second quarter of 2014:
|Area||Year-over-year change||Five-year change|
|Bellingham||up 4.9 percent||down 4.2 percent|
|Bremerton||up 3.1 percent||down 12.3 percent|
|Kennewick||up 1.4 percent||up 5 percent|
|Longview||up 4.1 percent||down 13.1 percent|
|Mount Vernon||up 9.3 percent||down 10.8 percent|
|Olympia||up 3.3 percent||down 14 percent|
|Seattle||up 10.5 percent||up 1.9 percent|
|Spokane||up 4 percent||down 8.7 percent|
|Tacoma||up 7.1 percent||down 13.3 percent|
|Wenatchee||up 5.6 percent||down 8.4 percent|
|Yakima||up 1 percent||down 5.7 percent|