Whatcom County is believed to have set records in 2016 for most homes sold and highest median prices of home sales as strong demand was aided by low mortgage rates.
The number of county homes sold in 2016 increased 5.1 percent to 3,145 in comparison to 2015, according to Lylene Johnson of The Muljat Group, who released the report based on data from the Northwest Washington Multiple Listing Service. This surpasses the previous high of 3,052 homes sold in 2003.
Also, the median price of homes sold in 2016 experienced its first double-digit increase in many years, rising 10.3 percent to $315,000. Johnson’s records show the previous peak in median sales price was $290,000 in 2007.
“However, the changes in the Whatcom County market haven’t been equal in all areas, which may give us a glimpse of how the county will change over time,” Johnson said.
Since 2012, the median sales price in the entire county has increased 26 percent, led by a strong 32.5-percent surge in Bellingham to $364,250 – nearly $50,000 more than the median price for the entire county. Only the thinly populated Mount Baker area, which has many summer residences, experienced a larger gain (89.3 percent).
But Johnson said higher prices and fewer choices also are sending more people to find homes outside Bellingham, the county’s largest population and job center. Bellingham’s share of all home sales in the county has declined from 45 percent in 2012 to 36 percent last year. Lynden’s market share also fell from 11 percent in 2012 to 8 percent last year, while the rest of the county’s communities increased or stayed steady.
“Also, homes that sold did so almost twice as fast in 2016 as they did in 2012, but there still were homes that didn’t sell,” Johnson added.
While increased mortgage rates over the last two months may slow down price increases this year, Johnson said the local housing market may remain strong.
“The number of homes for sale in Whatcom County as of Dec. 31 was down about 30 percent from last year at this time,” Johnson said. “Typically, inventory increases when the holidays are over, but indications are that it will remain tight into 2017.”
The median sales price, average sales price, number of units sold and average days on the market (DOM) before a sale for the county and individual communities for all of 2016, with percentage comparisons to all of 2015, follow.
Whatcom County – Median price, $315,000, up 10.3 percent; average price, $344,619, up 7.8 percent; units sold, 3,145, up 5.1 percent; DOM, 66, down 2.9 percent.
Bellingham – Median price, $364,250, up 12.1 percent; average price, $418,978, up 10.4 percent; units sold, 1,134, down 1.3 percent; DOM, 49, down 2.0 percent.
Birch Bay/Blaine – Median price, $274,000, 24.5 percent; average price, $309,177, up 3.3 percent; units sold, 418, up 19.4 percent; DOM, 78, down 20.4 percent.
Ferndale – Median price, $314,900, up 11.7 percent; average price, $328,623, up 9.7 percent; units sold, 517, up 5.9 percent; DOM, 64, down 5.9 percent.
Lynden – Median price, $310,000, up 5.1 percent; average price, $336,515, up 7.2 percent; units sold, 259, down 9.8 percent; DOM, 55, down 9.8 percent.
Mount Baker – Median price, $181,750, up 10.2 percent; average price, $213,756, up 2.2 percent; units sold, 280, up 23.3 percent; DOM, 125, up 11.6%.
Nooksack Valley – Median price, $265,450, up 15.7 percent; average price, $273,170, up 10.3 percent; units sold, 114, up 3.6 percent; DOM, 67, down 4.3 percent.
Sudden Valley – Median price, $263,000, up 9.1 percent; average price, $276,848, up 10.9 percent; units sold, 214, up 12.0 percent; DOM, 45, down 38.4 percent.
MEDIA NOTE: If using this information, please attribute it to Lylene Johnson of The Muljat Group. She has been tracking Whatcom County sales data and identifying trends for more than 10 years.