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Average home sales price in Bellingham hits this mark for the first time

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Home prices continue to soar across Whatcom County, according to second-quarter sales figures released Thursday.

Median home sales price in Bellingham was $452,900 for the last three months, up 14.9 percent from the April-June period of 2017, according to a report compiled by Troy Muljat, owner and president of Bellingham-based Muljat Group Realtors.

Data was supplied by the Northwest Washington Multiple Listing Service.

Bellingham's median home sales price was $425,000 for the January-March period.

Average price of a Bellingham home sold in the past three months was $516,669, the first time that the average home price has topped $500,000.

"It's unsustainable," Muljat said Thursday. "This trend cannot continue."

For all of Whatcom County, the second-quarter median sales price was $384,900, up 13.2 percent from the same time last year.

Average price of a Whatcom County home sold in the last three months was $414,403, up 11 percent.

The number of Whatcom County homes sold from April to June this year dropped to 853 from 888 in the same period last year, according to the report.

In his report, Muljat said that the decline in the number of homes sold could be a red flag for an impending slump.

He also noted that some U.S. economists have seen indicators of an impending recession.

"The question is, does the market pendulum ease its way back or come falling hard the other way?" Muljat said.

Muljat said that part of the answer may lie in mortgage interest rates, which have risen about one-half to three-quarters of a percentage point in the past year.

The Fed raised interest rates in June and signaled that two more rate hikes are ahead this year.

When rates are higher, home buyers can't spend as much for a house, Muljat said.

The average mortgage rate quoted to Zillow customers was 4.39 percent on Thursday.

Housing inventory remains tight, Muljat said, with a 2-1/2 month cache of homes for sale.

Less than six months worth of inventory indicates a seller's market, he said.

“The market does feel like it’s hitting a ceiling,” Muljat said in his report. “Sales were down over 10 percent year over year in Bellingham and almost 4 percent in Whatcom County. The market is waving a bit of a warning flag with a decrease in sales.”

Although fewer homes are for sale, the ones that are on the market are the most expensive, according to the second quarter report.

He said that on Thursday, there were 27 homes for sale that are worth more than $1 million and only 21 homes for sale under $400,000.

“The 132 Bellingham homes on the market have a staggering average asking price of $886,029 and the median asking price is $657,450," Muljat said.

Home prices were up elsewhere in Whatcom County, according to the report.

In Birch Bay/Blaine, the median home price was $321,000, up 13.8 percent; in Ferndale, the median was $385,000, up 11.9 percent; in Lynden, the median was $404,000, up 13.2 percent; in Sudden Valley, the median was $349,000, up 10.5 percent.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty
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