Business

Whatcom County posts steady increases in home sales in 2014

With a flurry of sales in December, Whatcom County real estate agents posted strong gains in 2014, particularly in higher-end homes.

The year-end totals from Lylene Johnson of The Muljat Group show 2,532 homes were sold in Whatcom County last year, a 5.1 percent increase compared to 2013. Johnson puts together a report based on data from the Northwest Washington Multiple Listing Service, which she’s been tracking locally for more than 10 years.

The median price for those Whatcom County homes sold was $280,000, up 7.7 percent compared to 2013. The rise in the median price may have more to do with the type of homes purchased in 2014, Johnson said.

According to her data, 578 of the homes sold in Bellingham were under $300,000, which is the same total as 2013. Last year 562 homes priced above $300,000 sold, up 4.7 percent compared to 2013.

In looking at the overall local market, Johnson said a variety of factors led to the gains, including low interest rates, decent inventory levels and more people moving in from out of the area.

“What is really important is we’re climbing back to where we were before the slowdown,” Johnson said, adding that the market situation is looking good for buyers and sellers in 2015.

The 2014 sales numbers rose at a slower pace than the previous year, when they jumped 14.5 percent. The median price rose at a faster rate than the 2013 increase of 4 percent.

December’s sales numbers came as a bit of a surprise to Johnson, who noted that it was the highest December total since 2006. The high number of pending sales — sales that have been agreed upon but not yet closed — for December indicates that the first few months in 2015 also could have strong sales numbers. That plus new homes becoming available through finished construction projects bode well for a strong spring, Johnson said.

Darin Stenvers, branch manager at the Bellingham office of John L. Scott, also is expecting a strong spring for real estate transactions. Along with the reasons Johnson mentioned, Stenvers said the low number of short sales and foreclosures are a sign that the market has nearly recovered. He’s noticed more people relocating to this area in recent months, a trend he expects to continue into the spring.

HOME SALES BY COMMUNITY

The median sales price, average sales price, number of units sold and average days on the market (DOM) before a sale for Whatcom County and communities for 2014, with percentage comparisons to 2013:

Place Median price Avg. price Units sold DOM
Whatcom County $280,000, +7.7% $314,719, +8.4% 2,532, +5.1% 103, +3.0%
Bellingham $298,883, +1.3% $349,461, +2.4% 1,140, +2.2% 75, No chg
Birch Bay/Blaine $230,000, +3.6% $275,033, +6.9% 293, +2.1% 145, +12.4%
Ferndale $267,500, +0.9% $284,440, +5.0% 391, +17.1% 114, +11.8%
Lynden $264,000, +3.5% $287,131, +4.3% 225, +7.7% 105, +8.2%
Mount Baker $135,000 +28.8% $162,290, +11.2% 168, +12.0% 150, -11.2%
Nooksack Valley $228,500, +0.9% $237,667, +5.2% 104, +19.5% 98, -26.3%
Sudden Valley $226,000, +7.6% $235,361, +5.4% 160, -0.6% 112,+3.7%
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