It appears the housing inventory shortage in Whatcom County is now having an impact on sales.
Whatcom County real estate agents sold 272 houses and condominiums in April, a 13.7 percent drop compared to a year ago, according to data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. While home sales have slowed down, prices continue to rise – the median price of the houses sold last month in Whatcom County was $336,475, a 7.5 percent increase compared to a year ago.
The local housing market is seeing the same number of buyers, but they are making multiple offers on the few homes that are available, said Darin Stenvers, branch manager at the John L. Scott Bellingham office. The multiple offers are playing a big role in pushing the prices up, he said.
The local inventory outlook does not look promising for buyers this summer, either. The total number of houses and condominiums on the market at the end of April was 521. That’s down from 760 at the end of April 2016 and puts the housing supply at around two months. While there is some home construction taking place, Stenvers does not expect it to be enough to remedy the current shortage.
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The inventory shortage is also making potential sellers reluctant to put their house on the market, Stenvers said. The seller might get a good price, but the seller may also have a tough time finding a home to buy.
“This market is ripe for a remodeling boom,” Stenvers said, because homeowners may be more willing now to add on a room rather than sell and look for a bigger place.
With buyers getting frustrated, Stenvers said some are considering other options. With rent also on the rise, in some situations it is now possible to buy a condo unit with lower monthly payments than current rent rates. That’s leading to an uptick in local condo sales, particularly units priced under $250,000.
More buyers are also becoming more willing to extend their commute in order to find a home in their price range, he said.