Business

It will be a tough spring if you’re looking for a Whatcom home priced $250,000-$350,000

Quality of life high in Bellingham, but homeless a concern

The 2018 City of Bellingham Residential Survey shows that while Bellingham residents feel we have a high quality of life, the city faces significant challenges with homelessness and affordable housing.
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The 2018 City of Bellingham Residential Survey shows that while Bellingham residents feel we have a high quality of life, the city faces significant challenges with homelessness and affordable housing.

It’s still quite chilly in Whatcom County, but, once temperatures begin rising, the housing market is expected to heat up as well.

Despite the snowstorms, local real estate agents were able to complete 275 agreed-upon sales of houses and condominiums in February, according to data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. That pending sale total is more than the 224 new listings last month, eating into existing inventory.

Those numbers and other data point toward another hot spring selling season, said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate.

Breaking it down by price range, Scott expects the $250,000 to $350,000 price range to have a severe shortage in Whatcom County this spring, with less than a month of inventory listed last month. Typically, a balanced market has around six months of inventory. Homes in the $350,000 to $500,000 had a 1.6 month inventory supply in February.

Weather could have been a factor in the low number of new listings, said Darin Stenvers, designated managing broker at the Bellingham John L. Scott office.

“Some sellers feel that listing a home with snow in the photo will not show as well if the home has not sold in a very short timeline,” Stenvers said in an email, adding that the start of Daylight Saving Time this weekend and better weather should lead to more listings. If the number of homes listed for sale increases substantially, it could lead to a more balanced, busy market.

In February the number of closed sales totaled 190 in Whatcom County, down from 223 a year earlier, according to the NWMLS data. The median price of those sold houses and condos was $373,325, up 5.6 percent compared to February 2018.

Across the 22 Washington counties studied by the NWMLS, home sales in February dropped 7.3 percent compared to a year earlier. The median price for those houses and condos sold was $407,000, a 5.7 percent increase. The months of inventory for those 22 counties was 2.2 months last month.

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Dave Gallagher has covered the Whatcom County business community since 1998. Retail, real estate, jobs and port redevelopment are among the topics he covers.
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