Home affordability drops, home sales remain strong

As a result of the large number of homes being sold in Whatcom County, buyers are finding that homes have become less affordable.

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

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Whatcom Co. Inventory is Sizzling

Whatcom Co. has 3.47 months of advising inventory… last year same time 5.56 months supply.

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.

Home prices and sales rise in Whatcom County

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

Current Market Data for Whatcom County

Geneva Neighborhood

New listing to hit the market!

Incredible custom built Geneva home with huge Lake Whatcom views. Home features 4 bedrooms with 3.5 bath and designed with a craftsman style. Granite counter tops, high end fir trim, and spacious decking are just a few of the well appointed finishes this home has well located in hearth of Geneva and minutes from town. This is a must see!

For more information visit www.muljatgroup.com or give The Muljat Group Realtors a call at (360) 733-3030

Bellingham Waterfront Properties

Summer days are approaching quickly! That means it’s the perfect time of year to go and check out some great homes on the water in Bellingham and to get one step closer to buying your dream home right on the waterfront! Activity out on the lake has been booming lately, with seven homes sold from $749,000 to $1,600,000 in the last six months.

Currently there are a number of remarkable new listings on the market that are located on Northshore and Lake Whatcom. These homes offer breathtaking views and easy access to the water which is just steps away. Prices vary from $679,000 to $2,500,000 giving you many options to find the right home for YOU.

We’re here to help! Contact a Muljat Group agent today with any real estate questions you may have @ (360)733-3030 or visit http://muljatgroup.com/Lake_Whatcom_Real_Estate for more information.

Limited inventory while spring market is blooming

Figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service show us an increase in pending sales, closed sales, and home prices while buyers are having to compete due to a limited inventory.

“The current inventory of homes available for sale has never been lower in my 22 years as a real estate broker,” said MLS director George Moorhead, who is also a broker and owner at Bentley Properties.

Recent numbers show that the volume of pending sales went up to 7,658 and exceeded the amount of new listings, at 6,989.

Others also say that we are entering February with a serious shortage of homes for sale, including those that are located in neighborhoods near job centers. This shortage is expected to continue through the springtime market. According to NWMLS, “Buyers need to be ‘buyer ready’ so they can react quickly. Brokers recommend getting preapproved for a mortgage, which can give potential buyers an edge in a fast-moving market.”

Home prices for single homes and condos are also higher than they were at this time a year ago. Single family home prices last month spiked by roughly 8.7 percent and condo prices have spiked more than 13 percent. King County expressed their highest median price which went up by 6.9 percent placing it at $390,000.

Moorhead believes that sellers are being hesitant and might be holding off for a couple major reasons, “Either they cannot find the next home to move up/down to, or they purchased between 2005 and 2007 and may still be underwater…this will bring an altogether new segment of buyers who are more savvy and cautious so they won’t repeat past mistakes.” He adds that there are new loan programs, revised loan programs, and a general easing of guidelines for buyers that help making home buying more attainable. He suggests that the one holdback is inventory or credit scores.

Overall, brokers are definitely seeing an increase in traffic at their open houses and the number of interested buyers, and advice of Real Estate agents to sellers at this time is “If you’re on the fence, it’s time to jump off. The market conditions are so much in your favor right now.”

REALTOR Lifetime Achievement Award!

The Muljat Group is proud to announce that Susan McDermott has been awarded the REALTOR Lifetime Achievement award! This award is designated by the Whatcom County Association of REALTORS and is given to those nominated by their own peers. The award demonstrates to clients that the agent has been a member of the REALTOR Association for minimum of 25 years and is still engaged in the active practice of the real estate. McDermott has also held numerous leadership roles in and professional service to real estate buyers. Congratulations Susan!

Whatcom County Home Sales Increase in 2014

Read more about the home sales increase of 2014 in this article.