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Whatcom County home values rise 5 percent

With homes in demand throughout Whatcom County, a new federal report indicates values continue to rise.

Local home values appreciated 5 percent in the second quarter of 2015 compared to a year earlier, according to data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency. It’s the fourth consecutive quarter that Whatcom County has posted similar increases.

One factor could be the energized local real estate market when it comes to buying and selling. The second quarter was a period when 992 houses and condominiums were sold in Whatcom County, up 34.1 percent compared to the same period in 2014, according to data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency uses home purchases and refinance data from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to come up with its all-transactions home price index for metro areas. Across the U.S., home values appreciated 5.4 percent in the past year.

A variety of factors are in play for this moderate home appreciation growth, according to Julia Hansen, an economics professor at Western Washington University. Homes here continue to appreciate at a slower rate than Seattle, making prices here more competitive compared to that area. The housing market recovery in California is also allowing people to sell homes, increasing the number of outside buyers to this market. If mortgage rates continue to trend downward, she expects to see continued moderate home appreciation going forward.

Home values appreciated 8.8 percent in Washington state this past year, according to the report, which used purchase-only data for the state index. That rise ranked fifth highest in the U.S.

HOME APPRECIATION BY COMMUNITY

Here’s a look at home appreciation among Washington’s major metro areas, with one-year and five-year changes:

Community

One-year change

Five-year change

Bellingham

+ 5 percent

+ 5.8 percent

Bremerton

+ 9.8 percent

+ 3.4 percent

Kennewick

+ 4.2 percent

+ 7.5 percent

Mount Vernon

+ 5.7 percent

+ 2.2.percent

Olympia

+ 8.3 percent

- 3.7 percent

Seattle

+ 9 percent

+ 19.7 percent

Spokane

+ 4.5 percent

+ 1.4 percent

Tacoma

+ 7.6 percent

+ 3.1 percent

Wenatchee

+ 7.1 percent

+ 7.5 percent

Yakima

+ 4.5 percent

+ 2.7 percent

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency

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