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Once a relative bargain, this part of Whatcom County saw home prices jump

Homes were under construction in the Cordata neighborhood of Bellingham in January. Even with home construction happening throughout the city, inventory remains low, so home prices continue to rise.
Homes were under construction in the Cordata neighborhood of Bellingham in January. Even with home construction happening throughout the city, inventory remains low, so home prices continue to rise. The Bellingham Herald file

With Bellingham real estate prices still rising, it appears outlying areas such as Sudden Valley are capturing more interest from homebuyers.

The median sales price for a home in Sudden Valley was $330,600 during the first quarter of 2018, up 27.2 percent compared to the same period a year ago. That's according to a report done by Troy Muljat, owner of Bellingham-based Muljat Group Realtors. Muljat prepares the report based on data from the Northwest Washington Multiple Listing Service.

In Bellingham the median price of homes sold jumped 15.6 percent to $425,000 in the first quarter. Across Whatcom County, median prices rose 10.9 percent while the number of homes sold was down slightly from a year ago.

The jump in Sudden Valley's median price came as a surprise to Muljat. He did note that maybe it was doing a bit of catching up to nearby Bellingham: The average cost per square foot for a house in Sudden Valley is $172.86, while Bellingham's average is $241.71.

The first three months of the year tend to be slowest for real estate sales in Whatcom County, so the sale of some higher-end homes can have a bigger impact on median prices than during the summer months. Sudden Valley had 39 homes sales last quarter, while Bellingham had 191 sales, according to the data.

Still, it's a sign that home prices aren't slowing down yet, mainly because inventory remains very low throughout Whatcom County. Muljat believes that the price increases should start flattening out, however.

"With interest rates on the rise, I see this as a headwind for real estate," Muljat said. "The double-digit growth is unsustainable."

Lynden and Ferndale posted significant declines in home sales for the first quarter, even as the median price for both areas rose. Muljat believes the 20.9 percent drop in sales for Lynden is a one-time blip; in the first quarter of 2017 Lynden had many new homes that went up for sale. He thinks the Ferndale sales slowdown (down 28.9 percent year-over-year) might be because other areas just outside Bellingham, like Sudden Valley, had opportunities that homebuyers jumped on.

The Blaine-Birch Bay area also had a strong first quarter, according to the report. The area had 73 home sales in the first quarter, up 28.1 percent. The median price for those homes was $340,000, up 16.8 percent in the past year.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz

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