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After the winds and storm that Whatcom County experienced last weekend, many families ended up with power outages at home, and roads are filled with debris that is scattered all over the city. The City of Bellingham is offering a free drop off of storm debris at the Geri Field parking lot, located in the Civic Athletic Complex. Hours for debris drop off will be 7:30am to 4pm until Friday. For more information about an easy and safe way to help clear our city, visit the link below for a full article on storm debris removal options in the City of Bellingham.
Puget Sound Energy is working efficiently to bring back power to over 26,000 customers. There is still a big population in Whatcom County as well without power. For more information and estimate times of when the power will be back up and running please visit the PSE website in the link below.
It’s clear to see that homes in Whatcom County have been hot on the market in recent months. Numbers from reports by Federal Housing Finance Agency show us similar increases, with home values rising by 5 percent in the second quarter of 2015. According to Bellingham Herald writer Dave Gallagher, “It’s the fourth consecutive quarter that Whatcom County has posted similar increases.”
The growth in home rates is due to a number of different reasons. Julia Hansen, an economics professor at Western Washington University notes that the appreciation rate in Whatcom County is lower than the rate in Seattle, making the prices more competitive when compared to that area. Hansen adds, “The housing market recovery in California is also allowing people to sell homes, increasing the number of outside buyers to this market.” She expects to see continued moderate home appreciate going forward if mortgage rates continue to drop.
Interestingly, Washington state home rates have gone up by 8.8 percent in the past year according to Federal Housing Finance Agency reports, ranking this as the fifth highest rise in the U.S.
Find more information and view a chart showing home appreciate growth in the Bellingham Herald at http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/local/article32388282.html
The ability of a typical family to make payments on a median-price home is measured by the affordability index. According to a report done by Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies which is based at the University of Washington, the affordability index had dropped from 140.1 in the first quarter to 130.09 in the second quarter of 2015 in Whatcom County.
To find more information about Whatcom County’s latest index numbers mean, visit http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/local/article31352930.html
According to Northwest Multiple Listing Service of Kirkland, Washington, pent-up demand continues to fuel homes sales around Western Washington with millennials, military families and relocating workers vying for limited inventory. Brokers from Northwest Multiple Listing Service say they’re not seeing a typical summer slowdown.
Commenting on a new report from Northwest Multiple Listing Services summarizing July activity. J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott, In. said, “The Puget Sound housing market is sizzling hot, with the best July on record.” He expects inventory shortages will continue into the summer of 2016.
Preparation is key, brokers emphasize. “Our brokers are helping their buyers get ‘buyer ready’ so they can act instantly when a new property comes on the market. More likely than not, they will find themselves in a multiple offer situation in order to get the home,” said Scott.
Neither buyers nor brokers seem worried about the possibility of rising interest rates, but several emphasized the importance of being poised to act. Moorhead said rising rates could slow the market and help replenish inventory, but added, buyers and sellers are commenting about “higher payments, less inventory and not ready getting what they want, but they’re willing to settle for something close.”
“In today’s market, sellers should understand the need to fully expose their home to the market to allow the current pool of buyers the opportunity to see it, structure offers, and possibly conduct preparation, meeting with a lender, and being “buyer ready” the moment the “right” house hit the market.
Veteran brokers tend to dismiss speculation of another housing bubble.
Commenting on the possibility of a “bubble market”, MLS director Darin Stenvers believes it is unlikely. “With broader government control and enforcement of new banking/loan programs, the underlying instability is now gone.” Buyers are feeling confident that “home ownership is still the best investment they can make right now, and homes are still within reach for most segments of the market.” Added Stenvers, the office managing broker at John L. Scott in Bellingham.
“This market is a bit unpredictable in that one day you can see multiple offers on a correctly priced home, buyers who lose out on a home because they won’t offer full price, and price reductions on homes that are overpriced,” reported the MLS director Wilson. Although the sentiment is “it is a great real estate market,” he said it comes with it’s own challenges.
Low appraisals are one of those challenges. They’re still an issue with some creating buyers and sellers frustrations due to differences between sale price and appraised value, said Haines. Nevertheless, she thinks “All indicators are that the current momentum in sales volume will be sustainable throughout this year and well into 2016.
Reports from the Northwest Multiple Listing Services tell us that the number of Bellingham homes sold increased by 28.4 percent from last year while the median price for a home in Bellingham rose by 7.4% from 2014 to 2015, landing at $290,000.
Even higher prices were reached in Bellingham, which increased by 8 percent when comparing numbers to 2014. According to the NWMLS, the average price hit $389,867; an increase of 6 percent in just one year.
Realtor Lylene Johnson at the Muljat Group, who has been tracking data from the NWMLS for the past nine years, says that Bellingham accounted for only 37 percent of the county’s residential sales in the first six months of 2015, the lowest share that Johnson had ever seen. She adds, “We have extremely low inventory in Bellingham, down 36% from the end of June 2014.” She believes that because of this, buyers are more willing to look at Ferndale, Lynden, and the Birch Bay/Blaine markets when looking for a home.
The fact that the construction of new homes has slowed down in the recent months in Bellingham also plays a major role; sellers are using this to their advantage. Branch manager at the Bellingham John L Scott office, Darin Stenvers, notes that sellers have been given a fair amount of leverage in recent months. This can be seen as an issue as “…buyers are becoming more cautious as sellers demand too much.” Stenvers has seen situations in which buyers were required to withdraw from an offer as a result of sellers refusing to make any necessary repairs found during house inspections. He adds, “In the last few weeks I’ve seen more buyers realize that they don’t have to move as quickly and are not making rash decisions, I think a small market correction is taking place.”
Interestingly, we are seeing an increase of homes that are coming on the market specifically in the $300,000 to $500,000 price range, with more homes being listed at those prices than those under $300,000 in Bellingham in the month of July. Johnson points out, “What we are seeing is something similar to 2006 and 2007, when people were getting priced out of the Bellingham market.” According to Johnson, buyers are okay with having a longer commute into Bellingham to ”get more house for their money.”
For more information, visit http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/local/article26619391.html
Source Dave Gallagher, “Whatcom County home sales rise, along with prices” The Bellingham Herald